I read his lines and I trace his carvings,
how he slices the language and stacks
different unpredictable, perfect
stanza after stanza, theme after theme,
varied yet unified,
and I thrash my legs in frustration on the sofa,
letting my thigh muscles tremble
like fat on a lily-white brisket.
Maybe if I met him,
I’d act like the smirking tattooed guy
selling tri-tip on soft rolls today
off a gas grill outside Albertson’s,
who pointedly called me sir five times in three sentences,
who probably meant asshole, as though
he thought I thought
I were better than him
for having lean arms, wearing glasses,
and not working on a hot Sunday.
It was pretty good tri-tip, but
I could make better sandwiches than either of them,
toasting the bread,
slathering the condiments evenly
from one side of the crust to the other,
calculating the ideal proportion of
meat to cheese to vegetables,
spearing an olive on a toothpick through the top.
And I can write cleverer poems than one of them.
Because I care, because I compare.
Somewhere between a butcher and a surgeon,
somewhere between Dagwood Bumstead and the man
who eats one circle of bologna on white bread,
there I am, a journeyman verbal deli worker,
still a bit green
but seasoning into a pastrami swami,
Sri Beefysattva, if I have my way,
if nobody else gets a vote.
Born in Flint, MI, raised in the Detroit area, and ripening in California since the fall of 1992, John F. Buckley lives and works in Orange County with his beautiful and dedicated wife, teaching at local colleges and chasing the poetic dragon. His work has been published in a few places, one of which nominated him for a Pushcart Prize in 2009. His chapbook Breach Birth was published on Propaganda Press in March 2011.