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Fiction

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 fir 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 lonely 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 chirping]

Contributor

Alan Gilbert

Alan Gilbert is the author of two books of poetry, The Treatment of Monuments and Late in the Antenna Fields, as well as a collection of essays, articles, and reviews entitled Another Future: Poetry and Art in a Postmodern Twilight.

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The Brooklyn Rail

AUG-SEPT 2002

All Issues