A Poem by Michael Cadnum

Sweet Wears Off

This was in the long days when you could buy lottery tickets with your tip money.  We both had the same job, bussing bones out of the diner.  The boss had no eyes, he had no mouth.  His daughter had two doors and you could shift down.

This was when we leaned to mix aspartame into almost anything.  This was when they spayed Tuesday, nothing else ever going to happen.  The only day was that one afternoon in July, and the ATM spewed scrip.  One hen marched down the back alley and one woman watched from the doorway.

We stole, Pendletons from Penney’s, cash from the church.  This was when the mail came in a box, four wheels, a stranger each time, everything on paper.  Then they changed to the colored answers, batteries and bad news.

We took off our clothes and took deep breaths.  We passed the physical, we passed the mental.  We got in line, and put on the new accent, dropping letters out of our names.  We shaved our attitudes, depilatories and electrolysis on what was left.  We said this was a smile.  We said this cut was where we would take in our nourishment.

We lived on jars of old summers, apricots pecked by long dead jays.  We kept our shirts rolled up and let them see the names needled into our arms, nouns and food colors.   We ate blue and danced.


Michael Cadnum Michael Cadnum

Michael Cadnum is the author of over thirty books, including the National Book Award Finalist The Book of the Lion and the recent contemporary crime novel Flash. Cadnum is often not at home due to what friends politely call his werewolf problem.

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