Three Poems

January 2019

Bay Bar Litany

Watch. Listen. Nod.
Make a sympathetic face.
Smile. Laugh at the jokes.
Offer up a response:

Sure, it takes all kinds.
Beautiful day, isn’t it?
At least you don’t have to shovel rain.
You want another Black Horse?

Spray tables. Wipe tables.
Stock cooler. Rotate stock.
Pull the chilly ones towards you, careful –
they teeter like rickety bar stools.
Load dishwasher. Empty dishwasher.
Count your tips.

Wait for the machines to sleep
and blink their flashy dreams
into the grimy darkness.
Take tickets. Fork over money.
Smile. Nod.
Offer up a response:

Oh, you did all right, didja?
Yes, all they are is a waste of money.
Made another donation to Atlantic Lotto?
Yes, girl, just as well to throw it away.
See you tomorrow, please God.

Inventory: count
every jeezuz bottle of beer
in this place, cooler
and back room.
Domestic, imported.
Molson. Labatt. Corona. Miller.
Measure liquor in bottles: breathe
through your mouth, when you uncap the sticky Sambuca,
with its sweet licorice stench.

Lock the doors.
Spray the bar. Wipe the bar.
Stock cooler. Rotate stock.
Dump fetid froth;
cram empties into boxes.
Load dishwasher.
Count your tips.

Sweep floors. Mop floors.
Pick dried-up chicken wing bones,
like mummified shrews,
out of pool table pockets.

Bathrooms: breathe
through your mouth.
Pull on squeaky rubber gloves.
Spray counters. Wipe counters.
Sweep up broken glass,
toilet paper sheets,
scattered on the dirty footprints.
Mop up rust-red
blood or puke.
Gently extract
gleaming shards of glass
like sharks’ teeth
from a toilet bowl,
like a surgeon
removing a tumor.
Put the garbage
in the garbage.
Put the bags in the bin outside.
Breathe.
Count your tips.

All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #39, Conception Harbour, Conception Bay (2006)
Scott Walden

 

Argentia

I walk these roads (winding, criss-crossed
with cracks like brittle bones,
green grass poking up through).
This 80-year-old asphalt is a dry
sheet cake, sliced and crumbling.

Maybe once a navy man
patrolled this road, past these bunkers
(some with mouths gaping like dead giants
with graffiti’ed throats;
some firmly shut, secrets unrevealed).

White clover dots the grass
like popcorn spilled on the carpet
of the theatre the Americans built
(where I first went to the movies).

Rows and rows of beige townhouses
wound up and around like a jawbone
where my mom brought me trick-or-treating as a kid –
Americans had the best Halloween candy.

Everything is gone now – hardly a trace
except for the faded yellow lines that marked out
parking spaces and cracked concrete steps
that lead to nowhere.

Everything was torn down,
the biggest building imploded
while everyone in town watched.

I am a tiny speck climbing up the hills and pathways,
a virus invading the vessels of the body.
The only sign of life is the rabbits
And the Marine Atlantic ferry
slowly pulling out of the harbour.

 

Ants in the Peanut Butter

I travelled ten thousand kilometers
to get my very own kitchen.
(Kitchen, bedroom, living room: all in one.)

Square wooden table, four angular chairs.
Stainless steel countertop, cool to the touch.
Fridge between bed and bathroom door.
Small stove, two burners.
Microwave? No.
Oven? No.

Cleaning: three sweeps of a broom,
three quick swipes of a cloth.
Tiny kitchen, perfect for one.
No dishes or crumbs, or the ants will come.

Friends come. I fry up
chicken, on bread with cheese,
whip up eggs in a bowl,
pour in creamy milk,
smooth and white as satin.
He eats the scramble, spits out
eggshells with a crumpled face.

Humid summer evenings, dollar ice-cream
in my underwear, beneath
merciful breeze of AC.

I don’t care about ants in the peanut butter
crawling around a smear on the dirty knife,
stragglers stranded on a desert island.
This is my kitchen, only mine.

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