Are You Diversified

They come in pink, wearing Birkenstocks and shorts, the worst
drive Volvos, the vulva of self-respecting self-involved
citizens. When other riders finally show, fashionably late,
you'll notice a certain crowd gathering in the corner. Beneath
the gazebo. It is possible, you'll notice, to speak
entirely in cliché. To think, so to speak, every thought ever
thought exactly
the way it was intended. You leave not quite drunk
enough to piss off the porch, or to speak
an uncomfortable truth: you would, on a dare, do something
even less challenging, rip that parakeet in that cage, feather

by feather until reduced by half. But you are not drunk enough.
Yet. A couple of bars later, you know the secret
of the universe, forget it immediately because it's unmemorable. God
gave you insight into nothing and that, unfortunately, sends you straight
into the arms of a woman. Every great truth involves at least
one. She was mean, by what I mean: average. Nothing
special to anyone else but you. It gets tricky because,
you see, once you allow one, you must allow
all. Slippery slope and all that. You write
contracts specifically to prevent that
and God, again, helps you only if you don't listen.

Learning to Walk

I'm the one who will knock at your door one night
It won't be cold yet
But leaves have been falling
Pine needles pile in corners
Parts of her body are exposed: nipples,
Thighs, the place where her thighs meet,
I imagine that

This boy
Plays: she would certainly smoke, after
And say something incredibly banal
So, what are your plans for today

What do you do when your loved one is killed
In a car wreck
A car wreck precipitated by a drunken driver,
A man so drunk he pissed on the dead body thinking
It was grass
The dead man had been a survivor just days
Earlier. Well, there you go
If nothing else he had an ironic death
Well, not even really that, but it kept the cops at bay
For a while

Then you came in
I'm not sure about you
Too slick, and not just the nails and the hair
Your coworkers think you suck up to the boss
You understand the principles of power: ensure
The man believes
There's a need for him


I still have a number
Of pills to take before I'm allowed
Outside again although the old place was news
To me. Even to me, I should say,
Because who, in the right mind plants
Crepe myrtle in the middle of summer.

No matter. Certain scans on my brain
Reveal what my eyes perceive. I am one
Of the newer models. There are still kinks:
Sudden aggressive tendencies against grout.
Marketing efforts have started in all locales,
Women in tight shorts and lots of spandex

(honestly, I can't believe anyone still falls
for that) put me through my paces. I'm not
a prophet but I see mostly black, declines,
burned buildings, arms reaching from pavement
to a gray sky. I own a copy of that piece
in my living room. Trendy chairs surround it.

I can see it happen: first the unimaginable, then
The possible, then the real, and the consequences too:
There has to be a higher standard of planning
And control. From the very top. Once
We find the guy he'll do the work: forgetting
Everything, ripping pages from other pages.

Claudia Grinnell was born and raised in Germany. She now makes her
home in Louisiana, where she teaches at the University of Louisiana at
Monroe. Her poems have appeared in such reviews and magazines such as
The Kenyon Review, Exquisite Corpse, Hayden's Ferry Review, New
Orleans Review, Review Americana, Triplopia, Logos, Minnesota Review,
Diner, Urban Spaghetti, Fine Madness, Greensboro Review and others.
Her first full-length book of poetry, Conditions Horizontal, was
published by Missing Consonant Press in the fall of 2001. Ms.
Grinnell was the recipient of the 2000 Southern Women Writers Emerging
Poets Award. In 2003, she was a finalist in the Ann Stanford Poetry
Prize Competition. In 2005, she received the Louisiana Division of
the Arts Fellowship in poetry.

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