3 poems — Jerry McGuire

THE INFIDELS

Though we have not decided yet,
although we know the rebels just
have come across the playgrounds and junkyards
at the edge of the city and now hold the library
and some parks and a laundromat, even though
we’ve put a price on their leader’s head, because we know
he is a criminal, he wants to eat more than we feed him,
he wants to fuck our old women and harness our lapdogs,
despite the promises we’ve made him, all the goods
we’ve poured on them while all the time
they laugh at us and mock the way we talk,
they hate our art and carbonated drinks and say
that our legal intoxicants are something their god despises,
though they are the ones who act irrationally, eating
with one hand and wiping with the other,
bending in prayer while we try to talk sense to them,
wrapping their women in face-towels and making
their children memorize their ugly philosophy
while, if they would only smile on us, show us
one bright impulse of gentle comprehension,
stop lying and denying and threatening and insulting,
which they do while we forbear and go easeful
against them, although they know as well as we
they lack everything, everything that could resist us,
all they do is shriek and gabble while our shells
patter like soft rain in their dusty villages, and if our own
children are safe and happy with their mountains
of toys, theirs could be too, if they would just give
a little, warm to us a little, and then we would never,
never kill them all, despite all that we hate
about everything they are, although
we still have not decided yet.

***

OLD MAN IN WHEELCHAIR, WAITING

He has a bone’s fear
of street dogs. He knows
that as he waits here
for his son-in-law to finish
swapping wife-stories with his pals
over their loosening whiskey
two or three or even
one big one
could flip his wheelchair over
and run off down this side-street
with him, through the weed-like
families of darkened folks
jabbering foreign talk
and past the evil-smelling
delicatessen,
and in a nearby vacant lot
shred him like a big-eyed fawn.

His legs are gone
half a foot
below the crotch
and sometimes he thinks
that a big dog
would do nice
like a pony
to pull along
his chair,
to save him
from waiting
for his snarling
son-in-law
to wheel him home drunk.
But any dog,
he knows,
can turn on you.

Waiting so long
the sun crosses over
the street, dozes
the head, nodding,
the son-in-law
forgets, every week,
he’s telling about
thumping his wife,
too tired, the sun
steaming the old body’s
juices why do you
leave me why
don’t you leave me
be at home
the sun
an invisible heavy dog
on my invisible sore lap
big hairy dog
humping my
invisible leg

Sometimes when he is lonely
from waiting on the sidewalk
he tells himself a story
he made up while waiting,
of an endless woods
in Canada, where runaway
housedogs from everywhere
have formed a happy pack,
each with his tennis ball
or fluffy slipper and his old collar.
Some of the time they chase the deer,
but most of the time they chase
each other. They’ve learned to share
their balls and slippers, and they sleep
warm together on thick pine needles,
never thinking of home, and then, waking,
always going and going, never waiting.

An old man just can’t wait
like a young man, can’t
hold it that way, all day.

The son-in-law is stuck drunk,
sun is going and going, the kids
have slunk home with their Spanish eyes,
and now it pours out
through the canvas seat
and splashes loud on the sidewalk,
runs down a long broken crack
and, finally, golden, floods away
far down the street, rushing
with his insides’ stink and steaming.

***

MAN BITES

Barked up the wrong community bumskimmer and put a stink on
beleaguered skeezerdom and the perfervidly footled and plucked
always vs. those fizzy stunners & rockin’ rockets bloodquaint and haha
stiffies in ties and their bombshell talking heads

and the bubbly sports drink of pain
and the sublime sex of starvation
and the celebratory blue-light special on the toothless and unpotty-trained
and the off-hand hilarity of mixing up the stories (“sorry ’bout that, folks!”)
of the mangled child and the schnauzer who farts “Smoke on the Water”
and the way we foul ourselves when the pickerel-eyed, rat-hearted secretary
of defense or CEO of anything whatsoever blames it on “the media” when of course
he is the media, he’s mediated everything into the grainy black stool that our children
wear to their daily buggering and that drives our morning bus to the bone-mine.

I sing the politic electric for the spreadeagled stretched and punctured
the ones whose thought-bubbles say duh,
for the great silent majority of the already-skinned-alive.
And wish perplexity and measles, humdrum sex and basketball-sized prostates
on the pretty people, all the pretty people, our blue-eyed gods
of objectivity bare facts hard truth and unspeakable bravery in the face of the Wall Street Minute.

***

Jerry McGuire’s third book, Venus Transit, won the 2012 Outriders Poetry Project competition. He lives in Lafayette, Louisiana, and teaches creative writing, poetics, and film studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.