Friday, April 29, 2016

Poem of the Day: “dead lines” by John Reinhart, Frequent Contributor


dead lines
John Reinhart

like waiting to check out at the grocery store in August
when you’re preparing for a five-year-old’s birthday
party and the ice cream cake is melting
while the teenage employee lost in obscure leafy greens
dreads the return of school, another place
to punch in codes for obscurities that all taste
like spinach anyway – and the older lady
whose basket brims over with industrial size
tubes of ground beef, cartons of cigarettes,
and frozen grated potatoes on sale three weeks running
looks set to derail progress indefinitely

no other lines are open: purgatory
ought to be a breeze after these
hours? with no distraction beyond
aliens in the white house
celebrity love children diets
twenty-four varieties of soda
thirty-eight sweets to rot teeth
and glaring fluorescents that make everyone
look lightly queasy even against summer
tans that scream against tomorrow
today, another sign that this line
is one sad, flat preview of a future
where ice cream cake dribbles
uncontrollably onto the floor

Poet's Notes:  Born of a title, born of a passing thought unrelated to verse, born of obligations to small children, situated in the thrills and frustrations of everyday, where what happens in the wings to call forth the flashing lights on stage is far more important and difficult to execute than the light play, but the show is worth dragging a shopping basket across sun scorched and desolate grocery aisles for a hundred years because the result is a spark plug.

I enjoyed living into these images. Kurt Vonnegut in Like Shaking Hands With God said, "I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around." I appreciate his sentiment and when I'm seventy I hope I still have the opportunity to stand around post office lines and chat with imperfect strangers. At this moment, I, against all better judgment and character, often appreciate self-checkout lines and online retailers.