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  • Favorite Foods, and: Practical Cats
  • J. V. Brummels (bio)

Favorite Foods

So after his last mealthe drunk with the busted hipis pulling on his jug.He pulls open the nightstand drawer,pulls out the wrong pills,tosses them back like big spermatozoa,and they kill him,the kind of suicide all us addictsare working toward.

But I'm soberat three-thirty on a Tuesday afternoonwhen Liz finds me in the cityand asks me to help her roommatechange the tire on her pickup,flat because Cassie drove overa curb she didn't think was there.But when we arrivesome college boys are alreadydoing the helping instead of me,and the world's balanced,and the biology of three strong young menand Liz and Cassie and their friendis clear enough to me even soberthat I go back about my business.

It's not my businessbut a tightlipped man I knowmight be seducing a married woman.Maybe I ought to say somethingfor the sake of her childbut other than wrecking her home [End Page 151]

I believe his intentions are honorable.I don't know anything for sure,but I put it down to a streakof wanderlust in that family,a sort of pioneering spirit.Besides, the unnatural cleftin biology holds too much powerto be stopped up by my words.

Like the words of this womanI know whose husband heard her callinga stranger's name in her sleep,and one night on the long commute homepanic grabbed her heart and squeezed,her white knuckles on the wheel

of the family minivan fightingthe pull from between the headlightsof every oncoming semi.She's better nowthat the doctor prescribed a pill.

When later I return to the pickupthe boys have disappearedbecause it'd be easierfor me to take the flat to the stationthan to jockey the wired-up spareout of the rusted carrier beneath the bed.But sometimes when you driveover a curb the tire can't be fixed,and this one has long slasheslike lovers' scratches.I find my new six-inch Ceeteesand a lever and commenceto twisting and cutting and banging. [End Page 152]

It's a nice, sunny day.And I have lots of words in my head,most of them sung by that drunkwho feared the hospitaland going without his booze,his words about needinglove and how a poet has to diebefore the poem says what it means.Words like biologyand a pill that cures everything,even when it overwhelms us like the night.

Practical Cats

When I climb out of my cellarof a study Lin has dug a holefor her cat of eighteen years.Kimmy was her name,and I found little to enjoyin her except the constantspooked green saucersof her eyes. She was neverquite right, and I knowI'm not much righter.

Liz has the barbed-wire fencethat guards the house yardfrom the low tangleof trees and grassI dubbed the high lonesomebetween her and the hole. [End Page 153]

Just eighteen herselfwho can blame her?It's a fight for her even to behere, but she's a fighter.

It's Sunday. I saw in the papera United States Senatoris returning to his day job,acting. Life's disguisedin arts and crafts. Kimmy'sshroud is a worn green towel.Lin lays the bundle down.Lines get blurred.Liz has nothing to say.We're all tired of dying.

Lin cries. Liz stares ahead.I shovel in the dirtlike an actor in a play.The craft is allin the spade, in knowinghow to fill a hole.The art is knowingeverybody diesstill wrappedin worn but pretty lying. [End Page 154]

J. V. Brummels

J. V. Brummels's poems have been widely published, and his most recent collection is Book of Grass. A longtime professor at Wayne State College, he lives with his family in western Wayne County...


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pp. 151-154
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