Monday Night

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Contributor: Thomas Piekarski

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The day having wasted away, he slumps
in an easy chair, his labors seemingly
amounted to rubbish. Tonight he feels
subdued, quite pooped as he cowers under
the big shadow of corporate compliance.
He kicks back and pops open a beer,
lifts calloused feet onto the ottoman,
relaxes, and yawns as the moment rises
and then falls without notice.
His wife lurking in the living room
watches sitcoms she doesn’t care for,
afraid the lazy bum may get canned,
and then what would they amount to?
Their souls may tell them it will be alright,
but when the money runs out hopes expire.


He’s certain that out there possums
are mating on white sands of finality.
He shuts his eyes in order to connect
with fond memories of their wedding dance.
It was a time before the fire between them
was extinguished, their problems still solvable.
Cherubs chirped then, and church bells rang.
Lollipops tasted dandy, and cracked sidewalks
seemed smooth as maple syrup on pancakes.
Now they both suffer from indigestion,
the mortgage is way overdue, and his beer
has gone flat sitting on the coffee table.
Meanwhile she’s run out of channels to surf,
and neither is a candidate to accomplish much.


He feels somewhat like the event horizon
of a black hole from which there is no return.
He mumbles a few sentences to her as he reads
the daily paper, but she doesn’t listen,
distracted by post menstrual syndrome.
At times their thoughts are dead on arrival,
and indecision regularly alternates
with systemic anxieties. Their ambitions like
seeds planted in salty earth refuse to sprout.
They wear blue jeans with holes in them
and drive a car with worn-down engine parts.
They can’t come up with any other choice
but to slog ahead, non-participants in their
doleful indifference, any truth beyond what
they can touch and taste way out of reach.


Suicidal tendencies appear on a daily basis.
And it’s not as if they’re on some noble quest
to free Palestine, wearing belts with bombs.
Manifestoes like eating, sleeping and talking
don’t make much sense. They act as though
magicians are playing peekaboo with them,
taunting their psyches. His inner voice says
take ten paces to the left and reach eternity,
which would doubtless dampen the sting
of those issues that plague him the most.
But he’ll never approach this elusive eternity.
She embraces pragmatism, somewhat inclined
to advocate a constructive end. For in the end
the beginning, or so she thinks Robert Frost
said. Upward to darkness, downward light.


They cannot defuse shrill voices that cry out
in the night. She dreams dancing a fandango
on a giant polished iridium mirror, romancing
a throng gathered at the crown of creation.
He struggles to exterminate those visions
of heaven that he concludes must be spurious.
They both fantasize cosmic factories wherein
stupefying monsters are pumped out in droves.
Their attempts at sex are about as satisfying
as paying income taxes. His ego is on sabbatical,
and hers continually probes the caverns of death.
A ship at anchor is battered by a stormy sea,
their weightless spirits pacing upon its deck.
An unexpected quietus arrives as they walk
their slinkies down steps to the basement.


He deduces there must be a lion awakening
while a purple satyr serenades him outside
his bedroom window, dancing in the shadow
of a black sun, perhaps product of a quasar.
She nods on and off while listening to AM
radio and darning socks. He projects himself
collecting galaxies in a tote bag. She might
be accused of welcoming her grim demise
when one takes into account such lethargy.
No-one should be surprised that feral ghosts
attack their minds like lightning, or that
the holy grail seems to them a dead myth.
Having faith would only get in the way,
he reasons, so refuses to read the Koran.
And if he did it wouldn’t make an impact.


For him the simplest of activities are enough.
The lighting of a cigar, hogging the couch,
surviving a nightmare to wake into the light
are his rewards for toughing it out. Otherwise
he might as well go ahead and end it all. She
not to dwell on such boring topics as mortality
will mope around in a moo moo, stuff her face
with savory pies, play pinochle with herself.
When he walks crowded city streets or peruses
stores at the shopping mall flat broke, he feels
totally anonymous, shunned like a download
containing a virus. And to think in their youth
people would remark at what a lovely couple.
He’s become bald and arthritic, and she flabby,
perhaps all there is to what’s called destiny.


They remain incorruptible in the eyes of their
peers, which isn’t saying much because those
whose hopes and dreams are so sparse are in
denial that humanity is purposeful. Even though
magnificent echelons of joy, pride and ecstasy
loom within the grasp of anyone who would seek
them, they remain resigned to a fate in which they
view themselves as victims of a massive disaster.
Although their cute kitten rolls a ball across
the kitchen linoleum, it offers scant solace.
There is enough pressure built up inside
these two to make them explode like a boiler.
One day their ship may come in, but don’t
hold your breath because you’ll turn blue
as they contemplate returning to the womb.

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I am a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly


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