Ode to 7-Eleven
How are you tonight, 7-Eleven? with your smell
of departure and annoyance, your white bread,
your drain cleaners, your puddings,
your cockroaches fanning out over the parking lot
like glossy marzipan soldiers lugging fearsome shadows.
It must be lovely to watch for dawn
coming over the EverTrust Bank and the Chevron station,
it must be trying
for the lively man with the turban (sales associate #33323)
to hang out with the seven moving objects of the sky,
the eleven ounces of the heart
and the sturdy sixteen-year-olds
picking their noses by the soda fountain.
7-Eleven—benign, broad-minded firebrand of night—
the great inward journey begins with you,
inexhaustible Christmas of green red orange HELP
WANTED Do we think we understand you,
7-Eleven? How sweet
the industrious freezer, the implacable milk,
the pounds of glaze, fritters, muffins,
“freedom of choice,” Hispanic, Hmong, Chinese,
the painful joy of brainfreeze™,
10,000 pots of coffee for Tarzana
apotheosis of the hot-dog-loving state
that stares at Popular Mechanics and Soap Opera Weekly
when all at once a man looks up, catches
his own image timid in the window
and a girl examining her nails in an idling van HELP
and beyond that a strong of bungalows and porches
and flagrant Union 76 balls WANTED
from here all the way to Downey, Bell Gardens, City of Industry,
past where the freight trains jangle and yelp
though perhaps no one can say for sure where they’re headed
or what they’re freighted with.
from My Father’s Lady, Wearing Black (Conflux Press 2013)
My Thirty-Ninth Year of Therapy
I’m one of those obstinate cases,
Of people addicted to stasis.
I’m no longer lured
By hopes I’ll be cured,
Just glad to have found an oasis.
In Praise of Praise
We all long for a bit of renown
Because Dad used to shout, put us down.
Though we are persistent
The world is resistant:
All six billion heads want a crown.
The bulk of our days we just wait
for what should be our turn to create:
The long search for approval
Lasts until our removal
To that halcyon cloud way Upstate.
An Eighteen-Year-Old Intern at The Missouri Review
Turns Down an Old Man’s Last Efforts
In a scrawl that is far from inviting
She advises him not to quit writing.
With a fine college glow
She calls down far below:
“Keep in touch, your verbs are exciting!”
Six long decades he hoped for a yes.
Where he’ll go now is anyone’s guess.
The neighbors assume
He’s found a new room
And silently wish him success.