by James Lineberger


If there are no debts
left to pay
why is it Iím forced to replay
these deathbed
scenes over and over, editing
and reediting them with the patience
of an Eisenstein, bringing in a different set
of characters every time,
old friends I thought Iíd never see again,
who reappear mysteriously
from the cutting-room floor, claiming
frantic messages
from the spirit world, or phone calls
from other ďlesserĒ friends whoíve managed
to hang around and get reintroduced
in another context, whilst I, their director still,
try to control their lives all over again,
shoving them onscreen willy-nilly
as if to guarantee a looming close-up for each,
and somehow, even after cutting their
ďbig speech,Ē
reassure them of my love, a love so fragile,
so combustible over the years,
itís a wonder anyone can believe me at all,
but they do seem to, yes,
and to understand at last the real purpose
of this visit:
to rekindle, however briefly,
some flickering belief in our immortality

Donít Say You Ran Through a Field of Sunflowers
If you are a woman
and a poet,
the quickest, surest way to get published,
especially online,
is to send out a lot of stuff
peppered with
words like cunt and fuck and how
you used to back up to
the window ledge to *pee* when ConEd
turned off
the utilities in your exís coldwater flat,
how the pearling stream
would leave a rainbow of fog, like the arc
of your motherís breath
as she held your hand those winter mornings
at the bus stop,
back in wherever it was, Edina.

John Bunyan Dreams a Dream
One thing you donít have in the burger
kingdom is overtime so if
youíve done your forty and they need you longer what
they do is pull you off the clock and put the OT on the next day or maybe
even ring it up as fries and coke because the first
thing a manager
learns is to keep his labor in line but now
and then like in my case when
you come across somebody thatís really crazy
to get some hrs
and youíre short of bodies anyway and hereís this fool
that says he wants to live there for chrissake then they sometimes take you
aside and say
looky here
I see your wife is not employed and you have a daughter too thatís
in school so we can understand how difficult
it must be to get along on one salary and if you truly
want to work a hundred
hours a week then we will do all we can to accommodate you which is not
something we would normally volunteer
to a person we hardly know but weíve had our eye
on you for some time and noticed how you are seldom late or ripped on crack
and you donít lollygag around in the break
room or call in sick at the last minute like these welfare mamas
that come and go like Mexicans
and donít wash their hands either half of them
but if we reach
out this far to make you a offer what weíre going to require is that you bring
us a couple more social
security numbers so we can set this thing up on a regular
basis let you do breakfast on your wifeís
number pick up lunch on your daughter and you can be the night porter as
yourself get you three, four
hundred bucks a week and nobody has to be the wiser except
maybe your loved
ones but thatís between you and them and if you donít want them to know or if they have any question about their moralities
we can assist you there too let you
sign their checks yourself and weíll cash them out of the safe and besides
looky here
all youíre doing is beefing
up their retirement right get them both a little more in their old
age so whereís the harm but hey
you think you can
do better at the Golden Arches go on over there check it out those people
donít give a inch and every forty you turn
theyíll hold back ten
percent for crippled children or some other damn fool project and whatís that
got to do with the American dream is what
I want to know and if the truth
was out wouldnít nobody give those shitheads a dime because it takes
eighteen cents out of every dollar just to administer
that garbage when what they really ought to do is seek out
some deserving family that has a poor tyke
in that condition and give them cash on the barrelhead which they
donít of course
which if you ask me is how
they got that Moscow franchise in the first
place greasing this palm
and that one without any concern for the rights of the individual at all and besides
looky here
who the fuck wants to get paid in rubles


©2000 James Lineberger

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