3 Poems: Social Media, Great Teeth, Dirt Floor

Social Media

 

The white noise of the chat room

fills our lives

so that when we are away from the

complexity of the ocean

when we can’t hear the breath of the Mistral

sweep down from the north

to deliver its blend of Euro cultures

we have a substantial alternative

 

And there’s a fifty pound bag of sugar

and the sound of ten thousand cars

on the freeway

and eighteen-wheelers carrying freight

like midwives deliver newborns

with loud cries

and the shushing of concern

 

The babble of the chat room

the unwanted invitations to play inane games

the silent suffering when unfriended

the creep of snails

across pool decks

 

We want to put up a sign big as the world

DO NOT DISTURB

but it’s the sound of buildings collapsing

the crack of bullets firing

and parents crying

that keeps us alive

 

 

Great Teeth

 

She was a new waitress

at my neighborhood diner

which sat between a car wash

and a garage specializing

in brakes and tires

and across the street

an underappreciated lake

 

The park around the lake was rich

with goose shit

short green cigarillos was how I thought of them

since childhood

when my dad smoked cigarillos

 

This new waitress wasn’t anything special

thin, flat-chested

half-Jewish/half-Catholic

 

I watched her pour coffee

and figured she shared a lot of mannerisms with her mother

and a lot of beliefs

and was a fan of Pope Francis

who was the pope of the poor

and a big tipper

 

but the thing about her was

she had the straightest teeth I’d ever seen

glowing white

in my dreams radioactive

 

That’s what poverty will do for you

because poor people don’t have good teeth

at least not in my family of the

crowded lower row

and the upper canine

protruding like a provocation

 

Poor people don’t orthodonture

We’re a 99-cent-store display case

of errant enamel

You never see a poor person

with a set of teeth like this waitress

which is why I fell in love with her

 

It goes without saying that

she didn’t make much money as a waitress

but being married to her

I finally escaped poverty

 

 

Dirt Floor

 

When I was a kid

and we lived in a house with a dirt floor

I liked the opportunities I had

to bury things in the room

I shared with my three brothers

 

We fought sometimes

if one of us dug up something

that belonged to another

We were dogs

 

Over time our sense of where our stuff was

and siblings’ crap

became more keen

 

One of my brothers got his start in geometry

charting it all in his head

became an engineer

and never told his wife he grew up in a house with

a dirt floor

 

It was important to him that she not know

so on holidays the rest of us

reminisced about our childhood

the kinds of flooring we had

(luxurious carpets

imported Italian tiles)

 

Our kind-hearted sister-in-law

never figured it out

or revealed that she had

 

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