Featured Poem: “Plus Shipping and Handling”

I’m waiting to see if all these insights, these dark

Residual visions of insomnia, will burn down to

Vapor and ash that hour after dawn,


That hour when the tired sun pulls itself up

Behind the luminous maples, each leaf

Shining as if lit from within.


Already the grackles are out walking knock-kneed

Over the lawn, like a flock of philosophers

Who have laced both shoes together.


Already the dog next door, his howl halfway between

A wolf and a vacuum cleaner, is making me think

Of sprinkling poison on the pork chops.


And those early strollers in their stretch pants, squares

Circling the block, pace by again and again,

Gazelles of polyester in the first light.


With my Buddha belly and my Confucian stoop,

I can face the east from either side of

This seesaw trauma of the soul,


At one end, crisis, at the other end, Christ,

As if I didn’t have enough to do all day

Solving the mysteries of the quotidian,


Enigmas that leave me so weak I’ll need each night

Baling wire for the brain cells, and another

Martini I.V., olives flavoring the drip,


Hex of the meat-haters, curse of the smoke-chokers,

Who must have found some way to live forever

In pure fear of the flesh.


Deep in the farmlands, the good folks busy themselves,

Up with the dew and the rooster, storing the hay,

Stacking the canned corn in the root cellar.


And somewhere lovers are brushing the crumbs of wedding cake

From their sheets, mouthwash in the champagne glasses,

Aspirin in the bride’s pink hand.


Here, where the clocks conspire and the church bells

Certify the day like a notary public,

I’m wrapping my throat against


The cold gold of October, a new scarf of

Polynesian pinwheels woven in the wool,

To keep my voice warm for


Crying out at an revelations on the sidewalk,

Sudden epiphanies delivered by the fall

And paid for in pain at full price.


by Elton Glaser

Published in the 2000 Issue of Alligator Juniper

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