UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY - 06/2012

JAMES VALVIS

The Jim Who Doesnít Smell Like Piss

There was a kid in grade school
who smelled like piss.
His name also happened to be Jim
and was called by the mean kids
The Jim Who Smells like Piss.
So of course I became
The Jim Who Doesnít Smell Like Piss.
I suppose there are worse names
a kid can be called than
The Jim Who Doesnít Smell Like Piss,
and I sometimes went by those too,
but itís an extremely low bar
and it always made me feel sorry for
The Jim Who Smells Like Piss,
even though he wasnít a nice kid.
Though we were both terrible students,
ugly, weak, unpopular, and bad at sports,
he still considered himself a prize.
Youíd think a guy known as
The Jim Who Smells Like Piss
would have a sweeter nature than
The Jim Who Doesnít Smell Like Piss,
but thatís not the way it was.
It seemed as if this terrible flaw,
like all the rest of his flaws,
did not improve him in the slightest.
Anyway, it isnít much of an achievement,
but I say if you canít avoid being a Jim altogether,
if you absolutely must be a Jim,
be The Jim Who Doesnít Smell Like Piss.
But if you canít even be that, be nice.


Being Used Is No Excuse to Be Cruel

Short with bug-eyes and pointed ears,
John was nevertheless a handsome man
and charismatic as a preacher
without any of the off-putting morality.
Also a party guy who knew party girls.
He kept coming over with the heavy ones,
good time girls who smiled and laughed
and clung to Johnís arm like a vine
thrown to someone in quicksand.
Clearly they couldnít believe their luck,
and they were right to disbelieve it.
With John, the beginning was always
just the start of the end.
Though I stopped offering my number,
eventually they would call and ask.
I told them the truth: I didnít know.
Or maybe it was just part of the truth.
I didnít know where he was,
but I knew he was with someone else.
He never came by with the same person twice,
the point of going for heavy girls
being to show how many could be scored.
The girls cried, and I tried to comfort them.
Sometimes, yes, that included sex.
John mocked me about sloppy-seconds,
but most only slept with me.
When they quit calling, I didnít chase.
I knew what would happen if I did.
Sometimes, weeks or months later,
I ran into them at the mall or post office.
They asked if I ever saw John anymore.
If I said yes, they gave their numbers
and told me to have him call.
If I said no, they said bye and walked away.
I never told any the complete story,
what they should have known,
what they would have figured out
if they werenít so busy flattering themselves.
Instead, I just waved and watched them go.


Beeswax

ďMind your own beeswax!Ē
My whole childhood,
everyone used to say this.
It confused me. Still does.
I had no beeswax. Still donít.
And if I did have beeswax,
I wouldnít bother minding it.
Who cares about beeswax
when there is so much stuff
a guy can find out about?
Like, for instance, whatever
youíre trying to hide.







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