The Shutterfly Edition
All through her childhood,
her mother had been behind her,
safeguarding the cupboards
& cabinets under the sink,
making sure her food & baths
were not “Papa Bear hot”
& her feet not “Mama Bear cold,”
pulling the car over
to fix the straps on her car seat,
remedying hazards she had created
(which always included Legos),
watching her when she took her to the park,
keeping one hand on the grocery cart,
& following her closely when she wanted the freedom
to walk around & look at toys,
& checking all the locks
on the doors & windows,
because so many in the big world
wanted a little girl,
though her mother never told her why
until she already knew why.
According to the world’s standards,
her child was neither the sharpest
nor the brightest;
she would never know how to solve
the world’s problems,
maybe not even her own,
but if more people were like her—
possessing an empathy so many lacked—
there would be fewer problems to solve.
She had grown up believing that children
should only be seen & never heard,
but when she realized
the errors of her raising,
her children were too deep
into their electronic devices
to want to say anything.
From Wheel of Fortune,
she learned that consonants
were worth far more than vowels;
she learned that it was okay
to answer a question with a question.
However, from The Price is Right,
she learned that any show
that wanted you to act like a fool
was not a thinking game,
a guessing game.
He was Jeopardy,
she, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
He was quick
with the answers
to the questions
that were over everyone’s head
while she talked too much
& took too long
to get to her answer.
When they met Wheel of Fortune
where every contestant had
a “ridiculously handsome husband,”
a “rockstar wife,”
&/or “just the greatest kids in the world,”
they thought they’d found perfection.
For the former contestant who’d coined the term
“my hotsomesauce husband,”
the “Wheel of Misfortune” was a cross
between a waxy red round of gouda
& a disk of The Laughing Cow—
with two black lines of mold that spoiled the whole thing.
She bemoaned the agonizing minutes she’d spent,
waiting for the other contestants to complete the suffix
to the gerund in “What are you doing?”,
looking completely flummoxed when they landed on the Express,
making much ado about landing on the “million-dollar wedge”
then landing on Bankrupt the next turn,
pronouncing “n” as “en-uh”
“r” as “r-uh,”
& buying the vowel in puzzles like CHOCOLATE M_LK,
only to mispronounce the solve.
She hadn’t gone on to the bonus round
but had won a trip to a “developing country”
for which she had no other winnings to pay the taxes on.
The Shutterfly Edition
He was tuxedo English,
but when he decided to correct her grammar
she looked him up
& matched his clean words with dirty ones
to coax him out of his clothes,
only to discover that this stuffed shirt
under all that spiffy black-&-white
was a T-shirt that didn’t know
to separate itself from red.
She wrote fiction
when she wanted to forget herself;
when she wanted to remember herself;
but when she wanted to just be herself,
she wrote poetry.
As a writer,
she didn’t let people live rent-free in her head,
evicted them to the page
& gave them their just desserts,
which were anything but
just or sweet.
When Highbrow Stage
met Lowbrow Telly,
they, as part of their community service
for the passionless crimes
they’d perpetrated against one another,
pooled their talents & created
The Unibrow Arts & Entertainment Station (UAE),
until Mrs. Tweezedale came along
& plucked it.
He had loved copper-haired Kroma
with a ticker stronger than the Tin Man’s,
for she had been the perfect spouse,
but on their silver anniversary,
when his seemingly ageless wife was in
an automobile accident,
& all that was left of her
was a melted metal face,
he realized that she had been
his golden calf—
programmed to hide
her artificial intelligence,
even as his ex-wife
had revealed her real intelligence,
shattering that which was most fragile:
the male ego.
Leif dove into the ocean
for sunken treasure;
Indy dug into the earth
for buried treasure;
but when they sunk their family jewels
into Esmerelda Goldenblatt,
they realized too bloody late
that she was a jewel thief.
D.D. Wentworth was the thrift store queen
who could always be found scraping
the bottom of the bargain bin
with her ShowBiz Pizza token.
She didn’t have 2 nickels to rub together
to make fire,
but she did have a penny
with a buffalo facing the wrong way
& a 3-dollar bill
with a mustachioed Gerber baby on it.
The millions she secretly accrued,
she left to her fat cat,
& things such as funny money,
she left to her community.
The Wentworthless Museum
was erected in her honor,
where a furry, lifelike sculpture of a calico
is encased in a glass coffin,
a glass case—
a penny over one eye,
a token on the other,
& a dollar bill between its teeth.
Mick Grady had always yearned to be 1 of them,
secretly dating his hot TV mother & sister
& rubbing out Cousin Oliver.
He always believed the grass was greener
on the other side,
which, when he pole-vaulted over,
turned out to be a vintage-colored Far Side,
for there was no grass but simply Astroturf,
which was why the dog—
whose name was of a different animal—
because just as there was no toilet for humans,
there wasn’t one for pooches either.
He ran a blood bank,
she, a sperm bank.
He liked his women Type A,
or a combination of both,
but Type O’s were mistakes;
she liked men
who were more inclined to withdraw
than make a deposit,
which created too many dividends—
too many carbon footprints.
He saw the people who came in
as saving lives,
even as she saw the men who came in
as creating more problems
because for her,
more people equaled more problems,
not more people to solve them.
The Shutterfly edition
He was a movie star,
she, a stage actress.
life was a series of endless retakes,
for her, endless rehearsals.
He wanted his performances
to be seen by the masses,
They each sought to be remembered
through those who would enjoy him in the spirit,
through those who had enjoyed her in the flesh.
He had the knack
for making money,
even as his wife
had the know-how for raising it,
but when he got all mixed up
with “the other woman”
who only knew how to spend it,
he fathered the child
who left him spent.
Her face graced the covers
of every magazine,
his disgraced the front page
of every newspaper,
but when one saw beyond
her made-up looks
& scripted lines,
when they saw beyond
taken out of context,
& his works—
the intents of which
the reasonable person
that just as there was money
in building her up
to the point of deification,
there was just as much money
in tearing him down
to the point of demonization.
The Shutterfly edition
His life was spent seeking absolution,
what she needed
through God’s images,
through God Himself.
He was a hospice worker
who sought to make comfortable the ill
& comfort the well.
She was a pathologist
who only dealt with the cadavers
that she disassembled.
He saw his patients as whole,
even as she saw her “visitors”
as parts of one.
She couldn’t deal with the
grieving family members
any more than he could deal
with the body after the soul
had left it.
his, a calling,
hers, a trade–
was all the reason why
he came home to an empty,
& she surrounded herself
with the presence of so many
who were so full of life.
Money was the only thing
that ever came between them;
he made not enough,
& she made too much.
The Shutterfly edition
She was the art of language,
he, the science.
She knew how to get them to feel
& discuss what they felt,
even as he knew how to move them,
to manipulate them,
The first did it to further her own cause—
that of her survival—
the latter did it to further a cause
he saw as greater than himself
but which he himself was a part of.
She was foreplay,
which made for a powerful coupling,
for she didn’t waste time talking,
& he didn’t waste time doing.
No one could hear
the introverted writer’s mispronunciations,
nor could they see
the extroverted public speaker’s typos,
but when they had to do
a PowerPoint presentation together,
they had to strengthen their weaknesses
by learning from what the other did.
He was a polished gem,
she, an uncut diamond.
He could be fitted into any setting
where he would shine & be prized,
even as she would cut down the houses
of those who threw stones at her.
She read the obituaries,
he, the arrest records.
She wanted the satisfaction of knowing
that she’d outlived her frenemies,
even as he needed to know
that the peers he’d pegged
as “Least Likely to Succeed”
had fulfilled his prophecies.
He was law school,
she, beauty school.
He kept her out of jail,
& she kept his clients
looking like respectable citizens.
Her wedding had been a bright dot
on the timeline of her life,
her divorce, a dark one.
The line connecting the two
for the way it had all gone down
had blurred the happy memories
they once shared.
When he was alive,
she was a hypersomniac,
for she slept to escape him through dreams
that led her into the arms of her dreamboat,
but when he died,
he haunted those dreams,
driving her to insomnia,
& into the arms of the man
who would become her lifeboat.
He chased ambulances,
she chased dreams,
but when he helped her see that
the new American Dream
was as shallow as suing those
with deep pockets,
she got herself a settlement
to pay for law school,
becoming a bank breaker for some
& a dream maker for others.