Good Food, Good Drink, Good Company

Three poems
by Chani Zwibel
We take Thursdays off to be together,
our sanctuary away from retail toil.
It’s twenty-four hours we give,
our highest worship paid to each other.
We have left our twenties well behind
and do more adult modes of fun now,
but these years have sped by
with him by my side
and how lonely without him
that decade would have been.
We have in our kitchen
a pile of middle-class luxury,
food and beverages seemingly decadent
because we bought them with our own money,
coffee, grapes, tortilla chips, sugar cookies.
We go out for the day to seek pleasure in shopping,
as we figure money spent on books is no waste.
Coming back from the bookstore,
we stop for lunch at a sport’s bar,
not for the sports,
but for hot wings and cold beer.
What game we delight in
is good food, good drink, good company.
Lately, deaths in my family have weighed me down.
I will away grief
not to mar golden moments with my man.
We are clay, bound for dust.
Our souls are sunset red reflections in a puddle,
crimson leaves floating on top.
Ornamental grasses with fuzzy seed-pod tops
are planted as landscaping outside the bar.
I am speaking absently of past lives,
of future reincarnations,
and he stops me with a gentle hand on the shoulder.
His fingers pull a bristly bit of fluff from my hair.
He tells me he wants to come back
as the grasses with fuzzy tips
so he can get caught in my hair,
and we laugh,
our laughter as light as a blue balloon
escaping a birthday party.
Three dollar western romance
smells like the dollar store where I bought it,
like detergent and “clean cotton” air freshener.
Cashier as she’s checking me out remarked
she liked this kind of book, too.
When I told her I’d like to try to write a book like this,
she looked at me as if I’d shared overmuch.
Her look expressed without saying,
“How dare you have dreams, customer of cheap goods?”
People always appreciate others in our society
as consumers of goods,
but grow suspicious of the rare visionary
who wants to create,
as if everything should roll off the factory floor
without human hands ever interfering:
tea light candles,
dish soap,
paperback romance.
Two days after
we bury my grandmother,
I find
“apple pie”,
in my glass at the family reunion
in the Pennsylvania hills.
Thunderstorm moves in,
a black cloud loaded down with rain.
Wind blows the tent while we wait out the fury.
Listening to thunder, a smile finds my mouth as I utter,
with drunk’s logic, mourner’s logic,
“Grandma finally decided to go bowling.”
I’m remembering that ad campaign from the 80’s
when I was a small child,
where they urged people
to give up smoking and go bowling instead.
Tears are not far from the surface
where the laughter bubbles,
miniature rain
in a miniature storm cloud,
my heart.
Chani Zwibel is a graduate of Agnes Scott College, a poet, wife and dog-mom who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but now dwells in Marietta, Georgia. She is a member of The Southern Collective Experience, and poetry editor for The Blue Mountain Review.

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Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, and books can be found. He is a Best of the Net and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Scott's poetry books include: Songs of a Dissident (Transcendent Zero Press, 2015), Chaos Songs (Weasel Press, 2016), Happy Hour Hallelujah (CTU Publishing, 2016), and Poison in Paradise (Alien Buddha Press, 2017). Scott is a member of The Southern Collective Experience; he also serves as an editor for Walking Is Still Honest Press, The Blue Mountain Review, The Peregrine Muse, and Novelmasters.

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