Alan Gilbert Poetry

HELLO, MY NAME IS:

A conference attendee’s stick-on name tag

keeps falling to the floor,

collecting more lint and dirt each time.

We’d be better off sending a canary

down the mineshaft first.

Uh, and then we, like, uh, we went to,

like, a place, uh, it was over, I mean,

like, uh, a couple blocks away.

Moving from mono to stereo to analog to digital.

Constantly mixing it up.

            slurrrrp                        slurrrrrrrrp            slurp

sucks the straw in the bottom of the glass.

      slrp

This one’s finished. It was terrific.

Not so fast. A hitter on deck, one in the hole,

and everyone else looked bored on the bench.

Or a shelf full of action figures

and an aisle crowded with shopping carts.

Is that unheroic enough?

It’s not comedy, either; as even the leftovers

became leftovers. So go ahead and call me

late for dinner—

      blinking LAUGHTER sign

      blinking APPLAUSE sign

      blinking EXPLOITATION sign

—because that money’s bloody on both sides.

The revolution would not be televised means

fire precedes smoke. Round thumb impressions

get baked into the warm bread dough,

even if the timer on the stove is broken.

A hand-sewn quilt hangs low on the clothesline,

repaired panel

            by panel,

      stitch

            by stitch.

 

SYSTEM FAILURE (I COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER MIX)

How big is too big to get pushed around the store

in a shopping cart? In any case, it means less space

for other items. Pausing before a shelf full of badass.

That freeze-dried krill sandwich looks appetizing.

Does the Home Depot® fit for peg legs? Ask the Santa Claus

Smeared in ketchup and chocolate. He’s not phoning it in.

                                                                                    [cue sound of dial tone]

Hobbling in single file along a narrow beach, as cars fall

through giant potholes on the bridge, later to be rescued

by lo

Alan Gilbert is a poet and critic whose work has appeared in a variety of publica-

tions, including Afterimage, The Baffler, and Boston Review. He lives in

Greenpoint, Brooklyn.nely barge workers slowly traversing oceans.

Confusing longitude and latitude, while satellites track

a large German shepherd fed small balloons filled with heroin,

to be followed—once the plane lands at JFK—by a bowl

of sticky Sun-Maid® prunes mashed up in moist Friskies® Alpo® dog food.

                                                                                    [cue sound of plane landing]

Yet, I’m not pining for your convenience,

and, quite frankly, would rather listen to Burl Ives sing

the entirety of The Ring of the Nibelung a cappella,

while eagerly awaiting a rural route mail carrier,

or sipping cold mimosas at the local Ponderosa®.

Told ya. But stronger than alcohol are you.

Not a hunger briefly satisfied, and then quietly turn the page.

                                                                                    [cue sound of crickets chirp-

ing]

Contributor

Alan Gilbert

Alan Gilbert is a poet and critic whose writings on art, poetry, culture, and politics have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Rail.

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