She had grown up with Pat & Vanna—
witnessing the progression
of the turning of the letters
to the touching of the letters,
of Pat’s lousy jokes & receding hairline,
& the ushering in of the
lame-ass “crossword” category.
Through “The Wheel,”
she’d learned her alphabet,
then her spelling,
then the combinations of words
& the categorization of those combinations.
She’d learned to count in fifties & hundreds
before twos & fives
& that mispronouncing a word
could cost you dearly.
She’d seen snippets of every part of the world
& where they were located on the map,
so that she was curious enough to look them up
in Encyclopedia Brittanica.
She’d learned when to take chances
& when to play it safe.
When she became a contestant—
meeting these personalities
who’d lit up her living room
with their Fifties blandness—
it was like living her childhood dream
& connecting with a friend
that had grown up with her
without them even knowing it.
The money she won changed her life
but only because she used it
to change someone else’s.
When Kitty Carlisle joined Toastmasters—
she, who’d always considered herself
the Toast of Town & Country—
fell in lust with Mr. Milquetoast,
who buttered her up
with a little brandied mincemeat jam,
so that she was drunk when she said,
When she became Toastmaster General,
he was known as Mr. Kitty Carlisle,
the cool cat who’d settled for
toaster leavins’ & spoilt milk.
To save their rubber chicken wedding,
Mrs. Kentucky Fried—
also known as an angel with wings
with the breasts & thighs to match—
showed a little leg
as she danced back & forth
across the yellowing, crumbling brick road,
having the guests try to figure out why
she was up to such chicken shit.
But the bride found herself in a real sour pickle
when the egg came
before her groom did.
There was no ebb to her life,
a flow of information that was like a deluge,
without enough time to process it all,
so she limited the amount of useless information
of internet prattle that she came across
by putting down her phone
& picking up a book,
for there was still prestige in print.
Her life was lived in patterns–
houndstooth in the fall,
plaid in the winter,
floral in the spring,
& paisley in the summer.
She’d looked like everything
from curtains to tablecloths,
from bedspreads to wallpaper,
but when her friend sent her a little red dress–
she realized that she no longer blended in
but stood out,
for the rest of the world was all mixed up
in 50 shades of grey.
Meg Trundy was a sofa-sitting,
binge-watching pile of marshmallow fluff.
When the TV got crushed by a giant meteor
in the shape of a hard-to-find size 10 shoe,
she went to the library to change her lifestyle,
only to end up changing her life.
She went to beauty school
to learn how to be beautiful—
but only learned how to be vain.
She went to charm school
to learn how to be charming—
but only learned how to be fake.
She went to fashion school
to learn how to design clothes—
only to learn that 1991 had called her,
asking for their fashion back.
She went to law school
to learn the law–
but only learned how to be sneaky
She went to medical school
to learn how to diagnose others—
but only learned how to misdiagnose herself.
She went to music school,
to learn how to be a musician—
only to learn that she was tone-deaf & off-key.
She went to art school
to learn how to be an artist—
only to paint herself into the dunce corner.
She went to acting school
to learn how to become an actress—
only to learn that she was a terrible liar.
She went to trade school
to learn how to work with her hands—
only to almost lose one.
But when she went to liberal arts school,
she learned how to be herself,
for all the others were expensive versions
of the School of Hard Knocks.
She learned how to be everything
by being the 1 thing she was good at–
a hacker with a flair for the poetic.