Bio Note: I have work in such journals as Carolina Quarterly, Barrow Street, Cream City Review, and Rattle. Chax Press (Tucson) published my ninth collection, Get Serious: New and Selected Poems, which was chosen as a Southwest Best Book of 2013 by the Tucson/Pima County Public Library. Birkenstock Blues (Presa Press: Rockford, MI) is now available through my website: jeffersoncarterverse.com.
My grown son, teasing, thanks me for the anxiety he inherited. He says, “O.K., Boomer” when I confess I won’t use the gender-neutral singular “they.” Now he emails, "Hey, Dad, self-explore your place in the world, read Me and White Supremacy." WTF? Didn’t I march on Birmingham with Dr. King? Didn’t I triage those students at Kent State? Didn’t I chain myself to that smokestack in Alberta? Well, no, I didn’t. But I was there in spirit. In his song, “My Life Is Good,” Randy Newman jokes Bruce Springsteen told him, “Rand, I’m tired. How would you like to be The Boss for awhile?” When did I tell my son, “Ev, I’m tired of being angry. How would you like to be angry for awhile?”
I dreamed I was James Bond’s twin brother, Jim. As the joke goes, my brother was an only child. Our father, Andrew the armaments rep, favored him & why not? At five, he could field strip & reassemble his Walther PPK blindfolded. When he was 12, our maids kept getting pregnant. He could out-quip Shakespeare, sell “clean” coal to asthmatics. Did I hate him? No. I worshipped him. I binge-watched all his movies, filled scrapbooks with his exploits & still feel pride when a customer, reporting me to our manager , asks my name. “Bond,” I say, “Jim Bond.”
Excuse me, you’re standing on my tongue. I do love your philtrum, by the way, how it separates your nose from your upper lip. You can’t eat a fertilized egg in Alabama. Preborn chickens have rights there. Postborn chickens, however, may be baked or southern fried. Food for thought. Answer this: are you better off now than you were thirty seconds ago? I know, I know, funny as a barrel of hazardous waste. But loving you? Like speed-dating a cobra.
Originally published in Coastal Shelf, November 2020
©2021 Jefferson Carter
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