6.14 / November 2011

Five Poems

They Must Bake an Awful Lot of Cakes

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Try venturing out beyond the searchlights and see where it gets you. I remember when it was Gerry out venturing beyond the searchlights to see where it’d get him. Remember we didn’t hear from him for two weeks and that greasy black smoke covered the playground right next to the searchlights for a whole afternoon? And then we hear Gerry crawling down the street one evening when all the rest of us were home eating Sunday dinner, and even when he’d been sitting on his own couch for an hour with a drink and soothing music on the hifi, even then he couldn’t do anything except stare straight ahead with his mouth open. Even when Judith from next door-remember how they always used to be borrowing cups of sugar back and forth from each other all the time-even when she put his head between her breasts and blew gently at his receding hairline, close up as she was, even then all Gerry could muster was a sort of high-pitched whine at the back of his throat like you’d make if you were playing dolls and the princess just found out her prince was devoured by beasts while in the jungle fighting for her honor. Gerry wasn’t fighting for anyone’s honor when he ventured out beyond the searchlights that night. Not even Judith’s honor. He was already getting a cup of her sugar practically every other night. What more did he want?



Lifestyle of the Non-Quarterback and the Non-Cheerleader

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You always said that’s what you loved about me. When I dumped that entire cask of olive oil over my head and rolled about on the floor of World Market saying, “I’m a kipper! Please someone tickle the kipper!” you were the only visitor I had at the station the next morning before my little visit with the judge. I’ll never forget that you came to see me then. Remember, you wore that little button you’d made with your button-making machine that said: Free Kipper Boy. I knew when I saw you there through the two inch Plexiglas that you were the kind of woman I could consider teaming up with to take over the world. I had no idea you’d pick me up upon my release in your special, homemade rocket car. Remember the looks of jealousy on the faces of the cops as we pulled out? You gunned the engine, and we melted the arrows right off the pavement.


One Woman Show

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She’d started when she was just a girl, with polish stolen from drug stores. As a young woman she moved onto rhinestone appliqués and creative carving. She began to get big ideas. She was reading a lot of aesthetic theory by those sorts of avant-garde “wildman” artists of the 1960s to whom anything seemed possible. And so she expanded her fingernail horizons, toyed around with pyrotechnic effects for a while-blue flames that shot dozens of feet into the sky. She went through the inevitable political phase, getting her fingernails jailed in a South American prison. Her more self-referential, minimalist phase of the 1980s was probably the high point of her career. The day she unveiled her masterpiece, titled simply NAILS 1 the entire art world snapped to attention, sat back on its hind legs, and begged. Presented to the multitudes were her fingernails: unpainted, unglazed, a medium length, almost holy in their simplicity.


Those Daring Old Men

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What I say is, it’s Doug’s right to get wings attached to his motorcycle if he wants them. What can they hurt? They’re only a foot or so long; it’s not like they’ll stick out into oncoming traffic. Worse they’ll do is nick up a few curbs here and there. When he first got that bike, I said to myself, “Here’s Doug’s mid-life boom-boom.” But it was amazing to watch how happy he became. I remember when he bought that old leather helmet and the white aviator scarf. I thought, Well at least it’s this and not diddling his secretary. I asked him, “So, what if you crash?” And he said, “I’d be the happiest grease spot on the boulevard, Frank.” And I can respect that. Life’s too precious to slowly waste away protecting it year after year. In some way, he was a lesson to us all, an unspoken example to keep climbing a rope of dreams…with a knot in it…on a ladder…of life…at sunset-or something like that. I’m no Shakespeare. But he had the right idea. And so I say now, if the guy wants to add wings to his motorcycle, why not? My own recent deep sea diving expeditions have taught me this much: dreams are like sharks. If they lose a tooth, they go ahead and grow a few goddamn more.


Have It Your Way

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“Lunchtime!” called Thommy’s mom. He was in the backyard ditch playing with some action figures. There was a princess, a man in a turban and a robot missing a leg. The robot spent most of the time lying on his side. “That is your special power then,” said Thommy.

The princess was in love with the man in the turban. Her name was Melody and she came from Detroit where there’s an academy for princesses. The man in the turban was named Phil. He didn’t love the princess. He loved his motorcycle. The Black Bandit stole his motorcycle, and Phil made a vow to get it back. The princess found this terribly romantic. The robot watched it all from his side down in the dirt. He would have made a comment but he couldn’t think of anything to say, except, “I wish I could stand up straight.”

“Lunchtime, Thommy! Get over here!” She sounds like she means it this time, thought Thommy. He climbed out of the ditch, leaving his action figures behind. While Thommy was eating his fish fingers and decaf cola, a gush of dirty water washed the princess, Phil, and the robot down into a drainage pipe. “This is a different sort of adventure,” said the robot perking up. The princess and Phil were decidedly not perked up.


Christopher Citro's poetry, forthcoming in Poetry East, Arts & Letters Prime, Fourteen Hills, Tar River Poetry, Forklift, Ohio, Gargoyle, and NANO Fiction, has been published recently in The Cincinnati Review, The Cortland Review, Harpur Palate, Poet Lore, Permafrost, Faultline, Everyday Genius, and The Lumberyard. His poetry has been featured twice on Verse Daily and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He can be found online at christophercitro.com.
6.14 / November 2011

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