088.1: Steven D. Schroeder:: Brief, but Frank & Gin Don’t Mess with Me 088

Steven D. Schroeder's poems this week firmly push tongue to cheek and present us with a mouth full of snark. The poet moves through possibility with each line, only to close that possibility on his reader. What Ifs are quickly followed by Probably Nots. We often look to poems for their redemptive quality, but Schroeder's work here shows us that there isn't always a nice tie-up or quiet realization at the end of the muck. That no, sometimes there is just muck and more muck. Even the close of "Gin Don't Mess with Me," with its final word "Amen," takes on a troubled connotation, and Schroeder makes us ask of the everyday what it is that we're actually blessing. Nik De Dominic

Brief, but Frank

Dear sir or madam. Dear devalued ex-candidate. Dear hunter without a

head. Dear lord of no brass rings ahead. Dear lord, period.

Thank you for your blah blah blah. After careful consideration,

boilerplate rejection. We wish you luck in your dummy text.

Papyrus is our official font and substance. Our motto and logo are both

No. Could you be our subordinate, separated at birth? No.

Are the gaps in your résumé and recollection due to booze? Likewise,

your letter had too many zeroes. By the numbers, you’re a blunder.

Forty isn’t an age, it’s a state of declined. Guessing your weight within

one pound is a hobby of mine. If you don’t matter, we don’t mind.

Thank you for not smoking. After careful consideration, we have decided

you sweat more than scotch on the rocks. We wish you would quit.

The taco truck came by at lunchtime. We bought a double-decker. You

got caught in a budget crunch with zesty queso sauce.

Yes, you’re a stellar elevator operator, but we worry you’re also a salary

escalator. Insert punchline about all the way to the top, full stop.

Thank you for your desperation. After careful consideration, we have no

regrets. We wish you all the best in your depression.

Sincerely, we covered our ass. Yours truly, though our pants are fired.

Your most humble and obedient servants, just kidding.

P.S. We had interest but, in the time you took to read this, lost it when

we rightsized our attention span. Up high, down low, too slow!

P.P.S. U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi. Yo mama named you funny. Please

pick a more American nickname, like Dick. You’re welcome, Dick.

P.P.P.S. Try us again later but with commitment. Put our paper incentive

in a business envelope with rain and teardrop stains. No cops.

Gin Don’t Mess with Me

Beefeater confabulates better drivers. Over half
Of Americans believe the Soviet government

Invented vodka to subsidize potato bugs and juice
Baby bottles. They’re right. No matter what you hear,

The world’s largest prairie dog carries no plague fleas.
These knees forecast storms. Over half of Americans
Not of Mexican descent know the Mayan calendar

Portends Armageddon in four, plus or minus three.
In craps, the optimum time to bet the pass line is two,
The object to rig one new pair of shoes and sock it
Away for the house. Over half of Americans owe

More green than they mow and water their lawns.
Even sinners mustn’t mess with gin. Amen.

Note: The titles are borrowed from Jill Alexander Essbaum’s “Epistolary” and Harryette Mullen’s Muse & Drudge, respectively.