A Better Way for America
A Harmless Obsession
A Mountain on the Lawn
I like to watch master chefs
on television do their thing.
My favorite is Jacques Pépin
when he has to chop an onion.
No one chops an onion faster.
At 80, the man’s a guillotine.
When I saw him chop one today
I thought of every state in America
that has halted the death penalty
because they haven’t found a way
to execute the condemned
humanely and efficiently.
I say hire Jacques Pépin.
Shave the head of the condemned
and lay the fellow on his belly with
his head up like a Spanish onion
and let Jacques do his thing.
Unless you think there might be
something wrong with that.
The nice thing about crossword puzzles
as an obsession, Phil tells Bill, is they
keep you away from other obsessions
that might engage your attention and
benefit no one. For example
Phil was molested by Mark as a child,
he tells Bill, and Mark’s still alive
and Phil could go find him but that
would be a mess at best
and Steve took Phil's parking spot
at work and is probably still parking
in that same spot even though Phil
retired years ago
and the old shrink who said Phil
was a borderline psychotic
still has a practice close by
and might be worth seeing again
to revisit that diagnosis
but as Phil tells Bill every week
it’s better to work crossword puzzles
than to look for these people unless
he can’t finish a puzzle and
these tasks require his attention.
You have the back rent
and come home from work
and find everything in a mountain
out on the lawn with the kids
sitting on the curb crying
unable to get in after school.
You spend the night in the car
with your wife and the kids.
They’re all scared
and you wonder what
to do in the morning.
You can’t go to work with
everything on the lawn.
Neither can your wife.
What about the kids
Storage costs money
but that’s your back rent
or maybe rent for a new place.
How would you move
all that stuff anyway?
Who would help?
You tell your wife
everything will all work out,
both of you knowing
it’s all just begun.
A Poor Woman's Best Friend
Story in the paper this morning
almost ruined breakfast.
In a rural county far from where I live,
the natives shoot stray dogs on sight.
In my city, an agency picks up stray dogs,
gives them shots, offers them for adoption
and kills them when they aren’t adopted.
In the county where stray dogs are shot
there’s a lady who takes them in
but she’s too poor now to feed them.
The agency in my city sent trucks
that brought back 17 starving dogs.
They say they never saw such poverty
as the dog-loving lady lives in.
What will happen to these dogs if they
aren't adopted? And what will happen
to the lady too poor to save them?
No trucks have been sent to save her.