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For our first Poetry Spotlight of the new year, three poems from Toni Mirosevich’s new book, The Takeaway Bin (Spuyten Duyvil). The poems are part of a series that riffs off Brian Eno’s card set for solving creative dilemmas,”Oblique Stategies,” from which the epigraphs are borrowed.
Give the game away
The spare socks, the extra toaster. Give the same away to those who least
deserve it: the cheapskates, the two timers. Double your fun and give away
a secret: you never really wanted fame and fortune, just another piece of toast;
then the next secret: you just lied, then the next: I fathered your baby (even
though I don’t have the equipment). Now we’re getting somewhere. If we gave
all the games away, the overused Monopoly sets—missing the little Scottie,
the purple card to St. Charles Place—or Parcheesi, we’d lose all our marbles.
If we wait for others to give the game away it may take eons, and no one will
remember whose turn is next. There are those with plenty to keep undercover;
there were no weapons of Mass destruction—the chalice and host were in
clear sight, the communion was on the table. If you give it away they can’t
take it from you—honesty, integrity, some kind of selfless esteem. Once
I tried to give my heart away but it came back return t_ _end_r and I knew
the affair was over even before I got out my decoder ring.
WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA
How would you have done it?
With less panache. With the pedal to the metal. With a holy roller.
With her by my side. With a canopy, billowing. With a nutcracker.
(You’re a ballbreaker, my boss said, without irony). With Irony
and her comely stepsister, Chastity. Chaz Bono had plastic surgery
and I heard he was eating with Alacrity again. They shared
a submarine sandwich. With a torpedo. With my second strike
capabilities. With her by my side, in a sidecar, yelling at the side-
swipe who sideswiped us. With new windshield wipers for a better
view of the playing field. With cantilevers, with torque. With the
yoga instructor’s instructions—Breathe in, say to yourself, “let.”
Breathe out, say to yourself “go.” With a blacksmith, a white knight,
a black and tan. With a tam o’ shanter. The driver of the shuttle van
wore a plaid cap, a tartan skirt. She spoke with a heavy brogue and
called her vehicle the Van o’ shanter. Drive the point home. Drive,
said the other passengers, Drive, I said, with her by my side. Swipe
the bugs off your grill, smile into the billowing breeze. I woulda,
coulda, shoulda done it differently, if I’d the balls to let go.
Humanize something free of error
Is it the human flow or the tragic flaw? Either way it’s a blemish
on an otherwise white placket. Every miniscule spot is noticeable
and brings to mind not one, not two, but all our imperfections:
our double trouble duplicities, our less than pleasant lack of
pleasantries. The sad fact is we’re sometimes liars, sometimes
cheats, oh heavenly day, let’s admit it: To be human is to have
more flaws then a bird dog has flews, so let’s elevate our errors,
not banish them: the time you pocketed the extra change from
the checker, knowing full well at the end of the night her till
would be short. Did you picture her adding up the day’s receipts
again and again, and still not step up, return that extra fiver?
Or the time you heard the cry for help on the phone machine—
someone needing a ride, an ear to bend, a favor—then lied,
said you never received the call? Admit it: You don’t always
think the best of your fellow man, you don’t always assume
the best of intentions. When the man sneered, “Go get married,”
as my lover and I strolled queerly by, was it kind to fire back,
“Small minds, small dicks”? Tragic error, especially when he
and his buddy, the fellow riding shotgun with a shotgun, tailed
us home. Go ahead, humanize him, his finger on the trigger,
and the cashier who lied about the total, and you with the fiver
in your pocket, the epithet echoing. Try to make a getaway.
TONI MIROSEVICH‘s books include the 2007 Lambda Literary finalist, Pink Harvest (Mid-List Press, First Series in Creative Nonfiction Award), Queer Street, The Rooms We Make Our Own, and My Oblique Strategies, winner of the Frank O’Hara Chapbook Award. She’s a professor of creative writing at San Francisco State University and lives with her wife in Pacifica, California. www.tonimirosevich.com.
“Giveaway,” “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda,” and “Human Flaw” from THE TAKEAWAY BIN by Toni Mirosevich. Copyright © 2010 by Toni Mirosevich. Used by permission of Spuyten Duyvil.