A soft jolt, twiced. Overheard: “I can’t come up with a
word I don’t know.” And I’m like, sure you can, typo, and
then I sip another hit a-this Sioux City Sarsaparilla. A soft
jolt, it’s slightly sci-fi satisfying: tinetieth. It astronauts my
tongue and synagogues my throat like an extraterrestrial
octopus celebrating its winnings at the slot machines. Yep,
it’s been a minute since I’ve drawn something that didn’t
involve words, but that works most times, so let us pray.
On the corner of South and American Streets, between the 2
and the 3, an ice cream cone from Häagen-Dazs, the wrapper
says, is stuck in the grates of a storm drain, vanilla dripping
into. Paces forward, I pass and catch a snippet: “Darn it!” a
mom instructs her son. “We don’t say damn. We say darn it.”
Its echo acrobats in me like a decadent panic of champagne:
[drumsticks counting in] Take the ‘n’ from the ‘m’ for an ‘r’
to get ‘darn’ from the ‘damn’ and understand, young man—
Nothing beats the story of the guy who kept six-feet-long,
flesh-eating monitor lizards in his apartment. He sawed holes
in his doorways so they could roam, but after he hadn’t been
seen since Sunday, police entered at the request of his family
and found him on the floor: dunzo. “They did a considerable
amount of damage to this gentleman’s face,” said John Cald-
well of the Delaware SPCA. Along with hissing Madagascar
roaches, authorities also found his pet cat, meowing and spry.
And I’ve found it worth it to keep the cosmos close, so when
a schoolgirl stands her bike along 12th and Washington’s row
of U-Haul trucks and I see her study each vehicle’s “Did You
Know”: the imposing pink wonderland of the 37-acre fungus
on the Michigan truck / the feral bouquet of Canadian snakes
on Manitoba’s / and New Mexico’s Roswell-wrecked extra-
terrestrial reaching out to her with “Where Will U Go Next?”
I realize: that’s all the awe I’ll need for the day, so, I’m good.
Paul Siegell is Pennsylvania’s 2021 Montgomery County Poet Laureate and the author of The Tongue They Shared (Moonstone Press, 2021), Take Out Delivery (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018), wild life rifle fire (Otoliths, 2010), jambandbootleg (A-Head, 2009) and Poemergency Room (Otoliths, 2008). He has contributed to American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Rattle, Sixth Finch, and many other fine journals. Kindly find more of his work at ReVeLeR @ eYeLeVeL (http://paulsiegell.blogspot.com).