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hands and feet

by Gabriel Ricard

She doesn’t remember the fire.
She’s just certain it happened a long time back,
and that it actually happened to someone else.

Something completely separate is to blame.
Mistakes were loved before they ever opened their dumb mouths.
So many that someone decided that it was high-time
she inherited a few extra precious miracles.
From people who suffer,
because they’re afraid of what might come
from a quiet walk down the friendly freeway.

She doesn’t recall how she got out of the house alive,
but she feels like it was a long time ago,
and that she just hasn’t gone home to fix her hair,
or change her clothes yet.

Or tape up that stupid broken leg.

She makes her way past a pharmacy.
The old guy who runs it is rich.
Doesn’t really care that nobody ever comes in anymore.

Not for medicine, anyway.
Wine is still pretty popular,
and he promotes cockfights and bake-offs
here and there.

He spends his time,
writing detailed medical reports in red ink,
on all the people who come in, or pass by,
but he misses that girl entirely,
because he believes in being civil
to whoever is robbing him on his lunch hour.

There’s a big bastard of a tree
that appeared on the roof overnight,
and no one wants to go anywhere near it.

Potentially sacred sites are not welcome.
Someone is spending their welfare cheque
on a petition to have the cocky thing removed.

The pharmacist doesn’t care.
He’s been at peace for a while.
God is God, and money is even easier to replace
than faith. He gives both away
when some writer with sizeable poker debts
at the library comes in,
with the saw-off shotgun he borrowed from his grandmother.

Something tells me
he’s not gonna get far.

Those kids outside are parked in the middle of the street
blocking traffic that’s never coming.

School is on the road now.
Not everyone can afford the bus ticket,
greasy diner food and paternity lawsuits.

Some of those boys have to stay home,
and drink warm beer until fight night
consists of some strange pills,
a couple of egg sandwiches from the breakfast truck.

The writer doesn’t need this,
because he’s already just about had it
with people. He spent the whole weekend
proposing to her, and spent Monday riding
on a nine-hour metro ride

All the way
to the family home that became
an upright joint to get steak and vintage VHS tapes.

He’ll be okay.
He’s gonna get out of the hospital and move to Glasgow.
He’s gonna join the army,
and pretend he knew all along that it was actually
a ten-year production of a really boring war movie.

We can’t look stupid, or act surprised.
Snakes and ladders of social anxiety is cheaper
than singing lessons.

We can’t afford to lose our heads over every little thing.

Hands and feet
are still pretty easy to replace.

11/14/2011

Posted on 11/15/2011
Copyright © 2022 Gabriel Ricard

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Meghan Helmich on 11/15/11 at 01:21 AM

We certainly can't afford that. Really enjoyed the big bastard of a tree on the roof. Anything preceded by 'big bastard of a...' is bound to be great.

Posted by Shannon McEwen on 11/15/11 at 05:46 AM

I like the line Meghan mentions but for me it was "We can’t look stupid, or act surprised. Snakes and ladders of social anxiety is cheaper than singing lessons." - that was the kicker - love this.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 11/26/11 at 08:06 PM

Excellent piece of writing as always, Gabriel. Love how you flesh out the various characters in single stanzas, and keep us on our toes...wanting more.

Posted by Lori Blair on 11/28/11 at 12:15 AM

Honestly I can't pick a single line I favored over the rest..I just found myself so spellbound that I think I am still so as of now..Excellent! Wow!

Posted by Mo Couts on 11/29/11 at 05:31 PM

Oh wow...this is absolutely, positively AWESOME, Gabe. I really, really, really enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing.

Posted by Ken Harnisch on 11/30/11 at 01:49 PM

Okay, since everyone has found a favorite line in this latest Ricard sparkler, here's mine: "Mistakes were loved before they ever opened their dumb mouths." oh indeed, indeed!

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