TR: Happy Birthday, Jack! Welcome to your adulthood.
Biggy: Remember, if you get arrested, they throw you in real jail now, not juvie.
TR: Your draft registration papers are on the kitchen counter.
If only all men were as honest.
--by Stephen Dobyns
--by Stephen Dobyns
This morning because the snow swirled deep
around my house, I made oatmeal for breakfast.
At first it was runny so I added more oatmeal,
then it grew too thick so I added water.
Soon I had a lot of oatmeal. The radio
was playing Spanish music and I became
passionate: soon I had four pots of oatmeal.
I put them aside and started a new batch.
Soon I had eight pots. When the oatmeal cooled,
I began to roll it with my hands, making
small shapes: pigs and souvenir ashtrays. Then
I made a foot, then another, then a leg. Soon
I’d made a woman out of oatmeal with freckles
and a cute nose and hair made from brown sugar
and naked except for a necklace of raisins.
She was five feet long and when she grew harder
I could move her arms and legs without them
falling off. But I didn’t touch her much—
she lay on the table—sometimes I’d touch her
with a spoon, sometimes I’d lick her in places
it wouldn’t show. She looks like you, although
your hair is darker, but the smile is like yours,
and the eyes, although hers are closed. You say:
But what has this to do with me? And I should say:
I want to make more women out of Cream of Wheat.
But enough of such fantasy. You ask me
why I don’t love you, why you can’t
live with me. What can I tell you? If I
can make a woman out of oatmeal, my friend,
what trouble could I make for you, a woman?
From Karaoke Funeral
At the mailbox I’m disappointed,
only a postcard of a missing child.
If I recognized her, had to alert
the authorities, tell them,
She stands behind my daughter
in the third grade chorus,
maybe I wouldn’t feel this
strange compulsion to steal
my neighbors’ mail, wander
up the street as gray and vacant
as my ex-husband’s flannel pajamas,
slip all the envelopes into my pocket
like a fistful of gold chains.
Last night’s dream reminds me
I’d never be suspected:
Two a.m. on Fennel Street,
waiting for the red light to change,
I saw reassembled Kelly
in my rear-view mirror,
sprawled out in the back seat,
drinking a Budweiser, blonde curls
grown back like a Miracle Mop,
chiding, Run it, Goody Two-shoes
—not another car for miles!
Like when we were children,
raised on rules strict as metal flags,
she always breaking them, and me,
older, afflicted with Compliance.
And no cars passing now
on Parsley Lane, as I thumb through
the Owens’ J. Crew, a Visa bill,
an invitation to Chuck E. Cheese.
Suddenly, it’s not enough, stealing mail.
I want to cut class, smoke dope,
fail Personal Hygiene and Driver’s Ed,
I want to go down on the boy with the biggest
mouth in school, then cruise around the suburbs
and smash my mailbox with a baseball bat.
After I got home from school Monday night and crawled into bed, my husband wanted to tell me a story about something that happened earlier in the evening:
Biggy: While Jack and Lola and I were watching 'Say Yes to the Dress'..........
Yeah, it doesn't really matter what he said after that.