Thank you for this opportunity. If you look at my resume, you’ll see I have the experience to manage the Burger World Cash Register, in a way you have never seen. I will massacre errors, just as William Henry Harrison massacred Tecumseh in the Battle of the Thames in 1813.
You’re unfamiliar with Tecumseh, well, if you have time…
Let’s just say I know how to use a cash register and defend myself in a massacre.
What is your time off policy? I know you haven’t offered me the job yet, but if you look at page six of my resume, you’ll see that I am a Presidential impersonator – oh, I have a thought. I could man the cashier in my full Presidential costume. “Would you like some information about America’s history with those fries,” I’d say. No?
What about on President’s Day?
Anyway, unplanned time off is critical because I never know when the call will come to appear as William Henry Harrison — an Ocean Liner launch, a children’s birthday party, a lung transplant operation. You’d be surprised at the last minute calls I get because party planners have forgotten to book the William Henry Harrison impersonator.
Well, I have performed at a children’s birthday party.
It went well, except for the accident.
What if I distribute notecards like this one, “William Henry Harrison was responsible for the massacre of the Shawnee tribe at the battle of the Thames in 1813.” If you have repeat business I can write a second card.
What do you mean, who’s William Henry Harrison? He’s the ninth president of the United states you ignorant Jackanape!
Oh, no, we’re not done! I’ll tell you when we’re done!
That wasn’t me talking. That was me channeling William Henry Harrison. I am certain you would love my show. Unless you’re related to any Native Americans, in which case it might not go so well.
Do I start now?
Well, when will you let me know? Time is short. William Harrison died 31 days into his Presidential term.
Really. I had no idea that Burger Land was that interested in American history. But aren’t they a competitor to you? Well, you are most generous sir. Your loss will be Burger Land’s gain.
Working in advertising was supposed to be my escape from the fast food industry. As a teenager in Silver Lake, I’d taken orders through a headset and dunked frozen potatoes in a fryer, the grease baking into the webbing of my hairnet. Surrounded by movie studios and wannabe actors—well, mostly comedians who ordered double patties at four in the morning—I felt humiliated. I was an invisible, penniless, Cal State Northridge student, living at home with my mom. Life after I completed a bachelor’s degree in political science didn’t seem so incredible. My salary would be the same as I made at the Drive-Thru, if I could find a paying position at all. I remember burying my chin in the collar of my acrylic uniform, barely glancing at the passing BMWs. My sister, Rocío, had told me that the ad execs she worked with made six figures, sometimes seven. I made eight fifty an hour.
So the first week of my sophomore year, I took an extended break behind a dumpster to call Rocío in New York City. I told her, “I’m following in your footsteps!”
“Wha-? Chica, it’s after midnight here…” Continue reading
It’s 6.03 am when I’m woken up by him next door, moaning for help through the wall in a deep disturbing slur: ‘Jes-sie, ca-ca-call am-bu-la-lance. Feel…wrong…’
The wall pounces with an earthquake-like thud. My framed Courtney Love picture flies onto the bare floorboards, shattering into glass knives. My heart drums in my ears like never before – bu-bum…bu-bum…bu-bu-bum – like someone else’s heartbeat through an old stethoscope. Oh my god. Did Frank just collapse against the wall? I hear relaxed vomiting that sounds almost satisfying; I think of cake mix oozing out of a pipe tube.
I lie still in bed. I recall walking through the narrow brick corridor that leads to our tenement flat balconies on the day that I moved here. His enormous body blocked my way; stained tracksuit trousers stretched with desperate elastic. His little rodent tongue suggestively licked his scabby upper lip. ‘Moving in, Blondie?’ he wheezed with a husky pervert’s voice. I ignored him and trotted quickly through to my ground floor flat.
The next day, our paths crossed there again as I tried to squeeze passed him with Mr Scruff’s cat carry-box. His exposed stomach layers pressed against my bare arm, but it was impossible to free myself without dropping Mr Scruff. The intimacy of the moment sickened me: warm, skin-to-skin contact that left a rash of man-sweat itching my forearm. I had to scrub to get rid of the smell: nasty, cheesy sweat, like a hairy armpit that hasn’t been washed in weeks. Continue reading
If a couple gets married
and one commits suicide on February 11th,
is it anyone’s fault?
Feminists can blame all they want.
Husbands can lament and take lashes
while they rewrite poetry.
Like a blinking eye that opens then closes-
what is-is. Unless it isn’t.
Depression was a black lung hung off
a rat’s tail on the tree by her window or-
asbestos pilled on plumbing pipes-unwrapped
and falling like snow-long before they said, ‘I DO.’
Long before, Sylvia swallowed 48 pills, slept
beneath her house, woke to try again.
Marriage is hard, poets complex,
Poetry is hard, marriage complex.
Like pulled threads in a sweater, they unraveled.
Depression created a triangle.
Factor in children and the figure converted
to a love pentagon-where two people wanted winged
poems sailing space and three sides were left hanging.
Pentagon then add a lover? That’s a hexagon.
The shape shifted, lost all sides, became thread-a heart,
became a pneumatic noose around a head roast.
Sylvia gasped air and faltered, fell asleep.
She wrote every day in the dark before a baby
banged pots on the floor, uttered, ‘ma-ma,’
while Ted left to write, wrangle crows.
Rejection lassoes perfection.
How romantic-two poets in the same house-
unparalleled love letters, mirrored muses:
in truth, for them, it was murder-
no, it was a contest-
no, it was academia-
publish, perish, publish, Pulitzer-no
noose was wide enough to capture
the universe of words that broke them-
Instead of a valentine,
the noose became a knot.
One, my husband’s Parkinson’s disease. It’s a tough break for such a splendid man and in spite of all the stiffness and fatigue and slow-motion, he’s Mr. Positive. But then you’ve got to be with this stuff, or you’d never get out of bed in the morning. You’d surrender to your cement-filled joints and then allow yourself to sit around recovering from a hellish morning of rising but not shining. Television would soon rule your life and there’d be hell to pay for anyone who nudges you to do more. You’d sit there, stone-faced and barely moving. You’d be the rusty tin man without oil-can relief.
When Steve was first diagnosed back in 2003, both of us were cool, calm and accepting. We were sad but not yet mad, and I remember my sunny husband saying, “If I had to get something neurological, I think this is a good one to get.” Really?
I had just lost two parents to cancer, and as I sat across from him in the diner I almost thought he made a good point. Parkinson’s wasn’t going to steal him too soon, just make his everyday movements torturous and sometimes dangerous. Like hopping in and out of a car, eating a salad, pulling on underwear or threading a belt through the loops of his pants. It made me mad to witness the downshift in his life’s power and pace, but I had to put a sock in it. Tamp it down. Squash it. Steve wasn’t to blame. No one was to blame. His brain wasn’t making enough dopamine. Should I be upset with his nerve cells? OK. Works for me. It’s their fault.