Matt Cook is the author of four books of poetry: In the Small of My Backyard, Eavesdrop Soup, The Unreasonable Slug, and most recently, Proving Nothing to Anyone from Publishing Genius Press. His work has been anthologized in Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poet's Café, The United States of Poetry, and in Garrison Keillor's Good Poems, American Places. He lives in Milwaukee, WI
There's a grocery store at the foot of the mountain
Where they misspell the name so you remember it better.
You drive past failed motels and successful dead chickens.
The cavemen live in houses and the housewives live in boxes.
There's nowhere good to stay except the abdominal pouch of a marsupial.
There's water leaking from a man's car, strawberry ice cream from a woman's ear,
The sound of one branch of philosophy breaking.
There goes the zoologist with his renegade speculation on sleeping bats—
It's nice to see an ineffectual man in his natural habitat,
Refusing to cooperate with local authorities,
Acknowledging only the iridescent plumage
Of the common rain gutter bird.
They have to put something at the foot of the mountain.
Lurid banner at gardening center reads: Cypress Mulch Madness.
The bread at the supermarket is always up against the wall.
The stockboys are laughing at your descent into irrelevance.
You're a conventional man walking down
An ordinary street with a questionable haircut.
An ordinary woman broke your conventional heart.
Questionable skies are giving way to conventional raindrops,
Thoroughly average raindrops, raindrops that are hardly worthy of your attention.
You're walking home right now because
You were attacked by black flies at the punk rock coffee shop.
You found yourself taking the black flies personally,
Which is always an important signal.
The bread factory is making below average bread but it smells fantastic.
People from nowhere who used to live somewhere have decided to live here now.
All they talk about is somewhere and they never mention nowhere.
Dirty little birds the size of doorknobs are living above the drugstore.
You're a second-rate man living under an assumed name in a first floor apartment,
But it's a nice apartment and the windows look out on the park.
Other than the windows looking out on the park,
Things are generally wrong everywhere.
Your shoulder is malfunctioning.
You're running low on contact lens solution.
You have a full head of hair and you're unemployed,
But you could pass for a bald man with a job.
Lost in Friendly Waters
There's a man inside of me that you wouldn't like.
But don't worry—I'm working on killing him off.
In order to kill him off, though, I need to employ
The man inside of me you wouldn't like.
I swear, though, once this is all done you'll like everyone inside of me.
Stars so small you cannot see them
Are living among us in the cupboards we never open.
What the omniscient narrator doesn't know won't hurt him—
The nonessential personnel are turning their pockets
Inside out as a protest against the stars living among us.
The Victorians were so uptight they ate bananas with a knife and fork—
But I suppose we ignore Victorian banana etiquette at our own peril.
I'm enjoying the limitations of my mind lately.
Are you enjoying the limitations of your mind lately?
Unfriendly submarines lost in friendly waters—