Robert Cory: Three Poems

Just Past Midnight

Just past midnight we spic-and-spanned the galley to spec with Brillo pads, fingernails, elbow grease and makeshift tin foil tools.

All the while keeping time to the irregular white noise rhythms of tableware rattle.

The concentric circles in our coffee brought about by three 1500hp diesels urging us northwestward, generally, against the course.

I whacked a moth orbiting the spiral fluorescent flickering overhead.

Chores completed we climbed aloft.

Ray, from Memphis, was alert, swiveling in his pilot house chair methodically adjusting his high beam spots port and starboard, sweeping surfaces shore to flow. Steering; adjusting; maneuvering; spot-lighting occasionally Missouri River wildlife.

Beaver, deer, turkey, raccoon, skunk, possum and fox.

His attention fixed on the jury rigged Birds Eye can fitted with an amber light, propped and rigid, faint as a Milky Way nova, precisely center-cut at the head of a well-behaved tow.

The port side of his face iridescent, awash in radar glow.

The air brewed with muffled country music engendering trademarked and sundry sentiments.

Ray blathered ad nauseam about all the women and their particular parts (titties, mostly) he’d randomly met in Nashville bars.

None of whom, he confessed, were particularly good looking but man would they, could they.

One in particular, a giggly twat, he’d bedded more than twice for the price of a couple stiff drinks.

(Jesus, we endured.)

Asked: could we fetch him a Coke?

My plus-sized, over-zealous deckhand counterpart, JC, (not his real name) summarized a letter from his girl friend in Jeff City.

(It having just been retrieved along with the latest Coast Guard reports from the mail drop at mile 98.)

All was well in the capitol city, more or less.

The neighbors’ dog had been put to sleep.

They needed rain.

Whereupon Ray digressed momentarily.

Said the torrential downpours around Omaha day before last we could see any time now.

Might be a rough go trying to get by the bridges at Glasgow.

Best we get there first.

This, somehow, reminding him of a red-head that drank him under the table one night in Little Rock.

Had freckles in places you would not believe.

Whereupon I volunteered to go below to fetch him that Coke.

**

Voodoo Vanilla Swirl

Inside the smelter
that was August
a neighborhood away
the tune could be heard.
Rote renditions of…
(Wasn’t that ‘Turkey in the Straw’?)
…faint at first then
on my street, at my doorstep
prompting pleads and begs;
bottom of the purse pursuits
or allowances advanced.
Hurry!
The music had stopped.
Frozen phalanxes of frosty treats
summoned their suitors
from inside the boxy
ice cream truck.
The small mouths flocked,
some with missing teeth,
to ogle postured
party stars
and chocolate covered
rainbows
lambent
with sugar-coats.
(Embossed as enticing
side-panel ads
over factory installed rivets.)
Ready for pick & choose?
“I want that one…there!”
Hand-to-hand
coin transfers
obtained the likes of
pastel popsicles and
Eskimo Pies.
Wrapper peels
plucked by finger pinches
floated to earth.
We enjoyed a Pinter pause.
A respite from the heat,
yawn and fidget.
For here, on this curb,
time idled as
savor pitted
pace against melt.
“Who’s next?”
Upbeat sweet,
artificial as can be,
strawberry. Tongues
red as the planet Mars.
“Mine tastes like Christmas!”
Fellating erstwhile
gelid stowaways dipped in
coffee colored coatings.
“And you.
What will you have?”
Ah. Yum!
Last lick. Tacky fingers.
A woody stick souvenir.
The carnivore’s ring
encircling lips defined
the small mouths
now stained with glee.
Flavor of the week:
Voodoo Vanilla Swirl.
(Next time I’m trying the
Mamie Eisenhower Pink
Lemonade Bar.)
You’re welcome!

**

The News

The news…as punctuated
…tabloidesque. Uplifting few.
Filtered fodder and summations.
Photos, obits, scores,
Help Wanteds, ads and all.
JUDGE LIFTS BAN ON BOB DYLAN CLICHÉS!
(Subscription coming due.)

Word of mouth…licentia poetica
…by which dots commence to connect
and mingle. Body pierced
grandchildren texting
from chapel pews?
Nothing new. Nowadays.
But gossip bloats
like appetites at Methodist
potluck suppers.
Gibberish brandishes its tuning fork;
misery its Mason-Dixon Lines.
Can one say “So what?” to fear?
A civic dependency.
Fret, rumor and nascent whim
swapped like commodities. Sold.
Same as slave, oil, gold or grain.
Across communal countertops
or alongside swiveling trade fixtures.
Rx Drug. Salon. Café. Courthouse.
Co-op. Tavern. Truck Stop
and barber chair. It thrives.
“Ain’t none of ‘em got the sense
God give a goat.”
Others nod and sigh. At rhythm
with the call to order.
Twaddle, rip-rap, slush.
Oral graffiti.
Terse & discreetly public.

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