Robert Siek: Grand Union

I walk the cereal aisle at Grand Union like a swivel-hipped marionette,
hot for ground beef, thinking of Bonnie’s barbecue, the pool party,
some half-naked man. Ignoring magnet frames and cork screws screaming “pluck me”
from metal hook-on branches, doing the dash of in and out, passing through perfect
as if Officer Lupo requested that I strut an imaginary DWI line, sober and balanced.
I bang my steps like Mary Lou on the balance beam, step one, step two.
I’m near the meat section and burning for a barbecue. No time to think of Shasta
or Pepsi, Barq’s or Crush, or eighteen-year-old muscle boys, confused and stoned,
slurring, “You’re a flamer,” to which I said, “Joan of Arc, don’t you love
word-association games. Is it my turn?” and how he got pissed off.
Turning the Vintage Seltzer–stacked corner, I view the rump roasts,
sausage, and Cornish hens, and make for the ground beef,
concerned over plastic gloves, fly shit, fecal contamination,
when a white-haired elderly woman gives me a tsk! tsk!,
crook the neck, slide down the bifocals, stare of death. Meat rots in heat waves,
the barbecue begins, and I hear voices like Joan, flicker snaps in my head.
I look the other way and think, “I’m respectable, so fuck you!”
Am I too tall of a boy? Are my fingers tied in knots?
You would think I abducted her grandchildren, told them
where babies come from, then dropped them off on her doorstep, high on smack
and covered in cum. I breathe in deep and walk so fast, carrying fresh meat
while prancing toward the registers. I smile like a marionette bouncing
in a puppet show, paying for my groceries and looking forward to the weekend.

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