SONNET IN WHICH I ASK FOR FORGIVENESS BY WAY OF COMPARING OUR MARRIAGE TO A TRUCK That time I slammed the back French doors then kicked that concrete planter off the deck and broke my toe, the neighbors saw the whole conflict, one-sided no doubt, and I was the joke around the block for weeks, until the Kent kid took a dump in their front yard. What I in all my rage and slobber meant is that I love you. Something’s wrong with my temp gauge and radiator, which always blows up just when the truck gets going. So I put us up on blocks to sit for days until you get the parts to make us go again. The hood is gone. I’ve stripped the gears. But we can make this engine run for years.
SMITH & SONS The ice chunks stick, a choking in the throat of aged, withered water pipes and draw plumbers out on dead cold days. There’s a white truck backed into the gravel drive next door. Across the side it says in scrawling, confident red, Smith & Sons: Most Trusted Name in Plumbing, and I remember when the plumber was just Smith, back when & sons were just two dumb guys I knew at school, one apt to spend all day locked in a bathroom stall with a stolen Playboy. The other’s favorite party trick was slicking up his denim crotch with hairspray and lighting it on fire to run through the party crowd singing Hunka, Hunka, Burning Love. Two dogs in a wild pack of strays that all of us ran in. Still, I don’t doubt the claim the slogan makes. My dumbass friends have mostly found a way to make themselves useful. They hammer neatly in the nail of every blessed year and drink the bourbon backed with beer of divorces, births, and deaths. You’ll see them pouring salt from paper bags onto their sidewalks and front steps before a freeze or sitting in their winter coats in bleachers at high school basketball games, knees raised, hands in coat pockets, faces calm and stern. And though I know it isn’t true, I want now to say they’re chieftains, kings, every single one.