Three times since she’s returned
from Boise, my wife’s given me
the “look,” the one that asks
what’s wrong with you? I said
“dickhead” in front of her sister,
I joked about “pecker tracks”
& beside the stove I called someone
a cunt, a word I never use.
What’s wrong with me?
I’m just glad
she’s home. I can throw out
those self-improvement books
I buy whenever I’m alone.
I’m also preparing to tell her
about my week, how I met someone
I never want to be, an old man
with huge ankles, a racehorse owner
who called other owners “cheap fucks”
& “stupid shits,” who complained
about the fucking trailer trash taking
his reserved seats, who limped over
to his cane & snarled at his seated wife,
“Help me, goddamnit! I’m
the one who’s dying.”
James Wright, that famous poet
nobody reads anymore, wrote
“When I was a boy
I loved my country…
Hell, I ain’t got nothing.
Ah, you bastards,
How I hate you.” He also said
“Mad means something.”
Tell me about it!
Cowboy karaoke enrages my son.
Those punk rockers last night?
He says they’re shit
musicians. I say they’re not
like James Wright. They’d be pissed off
in Paradise. Parents, listen!
If we didn’t talk about music
we wouldn’t talk at all.
||“Callete!” I bark at my noisy students.
A few laugh. The smart one who sits in front
says “but I’m black.” “Yo, little bitch,”
I say, “hush yo’ mouf !” Oops.
She doesn’t laugh. I explain
that I call everyone “little bitch,” my wife,
my son, even my best buddy.
I don’t mean anything by it. She follows me
around campus, listening to me say
“Hi, little bitch,” to the speech instructor,
hearing me groan “how are you, little bitch?”
to the Dean. She starts materializing
in what students call “the real world,”
standing behind me in the checkout line
as I thank the little bitch bagging my groceries,
watching me ask Little Bitch the Hardware Clerk
what doornails cost. Thank you,
everyone. All week I’ve called you
“little bitch” & you’ve done nothing
but raise an eyebrow or at most mutter
deep in your throat. When I bought
those two pounds of turkey sausage,
thank you for ignoring me, Little Bitch
the Butcher in your bloody cap.