Mannequin rest is a sign of weakness
and cheap plastic.
My stock at the Sears downtown
believes that since they look human,
they should receive pay and benefits
like my flesh and blood employees.
I’m so tired of emphasizing
to these hollow Betties and Bernies
that they were designed, built and purchased
for the sole purpose of displaying garments.
I’m not the one to blame
for their poor quality of life.
Even if their plight was real
or at all justifiable,
how am I supposed to provide
services for company property?
I’m just a shift manager!
I’ve tided them over for now
by letting them form an in-store mannequin union
in the basement (Thursday and Saturday nights
from 7 to 9), but until they’re legitimate,
I’m not breathing a word of this to the higher-ups.
Originally published as part of inaugural post (12/20/2010)
First titled “Swivel Rights”
A tortoise–let’s call it Gregory Poke–
peeps its head out from inside its shell
in an effort to feel alive,
truly alive, for the first time in weeks
Gregory doesn’t quite know what to do next.
There are no predators to be seen
for hundreds of yards in every direction. Wait,
there are no predators here. How many times
does Greg have to remind itself of that?
And will it ever get over the affliction
of constantly referring to itself
in the third person? The answer may never arrive,
as this writer can only use 100 words. Howev–
A piddly little posy of pansies
left the station an hour ago
(off to Cleveland of all places),
running late. All alone,
the colorful collective thinks
to itself, “I should have had
a better breakfast.” A freight train
is no place for a flower
to be lollygagging around, fretting
about its appetite and desperate need
for sun rays, but that’s neither here nor there
at the moment. This bundle has an agenda,
and time is of the essence.
There’s no window in the car,
just that played-out open sliding door (the one
that may have Woody Guthrie’s initials
carved into it, whether by a fanatic,
the legend himself, or
just some schmo with the initials “WG”).
The posy, steeped in darkness, wonders
if it can gather the strength to flit
over to that certain patch of light
(the one there always seems to be),
when a breeze picks it up
and slaps it against the door,
just inches from being jettisoned.
A crash landing
in this stretch of rural Pennsylvania
would almost certainly mean a grisly death
at the hooves of the local Holstein population.
But now is no time to panic. Anxiety
will get you nowhere
in the face of a looming deadline
and quarterly financial report presentation.
Chin up, fair posy. We’re not giving up on you yet.
Jemblatrons squeeze through the tetrahedra
as though mall cops have some kind of a stake
in all of this.
It’s not uncommon
to see such a prairie-headed analogy
encompassing the flight of the larcenous
concord penguin, be the bird yella or gold,
kite-running or otherwise.
Whether or not we align ourselves
to this illustrious ancient practice
has little to do with our blood sugar content,
though many shallow-ended participants
profess prediabetic plight.
I have come to more thoroughly understand
being a man in the context of the great
regret machinations of our time
[a sensation not unlike finishing
the stinking shawarma you left out
that one time then decided to eat
because your fatigue caused a lack of interest
in unwritten expiration date consideration],
and have chosen to fish away my days
in lakes, rivers, ponds and streams, where
the skeletons all around you,
to the bluegills
while they inspect your lure
grinning at your little boat],
ears naturally aglow.
striders dot the scene,
checking for proper surface tension
(it’s like they don’t know about physics
and the evolution that specifically adapted them
to traveling in a manner that will never not be useful
in our particular iteration of the universe).
Well, seeing as I dumped the chicken wire for some crumb pastries, you can understand why my rumbling tum-tum began composing a symphony of sorts (an “ode to shortcrust” or some such), bewildering all sentient beings within a 50-foot radius.
Once I’d managed to trudge my way to the dreaded (oft-forgotten) lion cage, I immediately began questioning why I got rid of that infernal chicken wire in the first place. Clearly these lions would have had a perfectly good use for it (as far as I could see). In attempting to save face, I apologized to the few lions I saw. They didn’t know why I was apologizing. I began to explain the whole chicken wire predicament to them, but decided against insinuating that something designed for puny domestic fowl would be suitable for the kings of the jungle. Dejected, I tossed them my crumb pastries and walked away, my stomach continuing its magnum opus unopposed.
Albacore dreams float soundless,
drop to sediment, petrify
and wash up:
broken empty shells
inflicting wounds at will.
All the lost blood
on the beach,
the sand gulps it and dives
Burrowed in muck,
all the ‘O’s and ‘AB’s
reaffirm their common lineages,
summoning up a plume of sanguinary vitality
(luring jerky lurker sharks
near the shore to nip some ‘A+’
from a lazing boogie boarder–
that type’s always running low
for some reason).
Original draft posted to WHARVED on 3/2/12,