By: Peter Junker
1. A WHITE COLLAR LIFE The welfare of the workers has been put In my hands after my leadership skills We're recognized while tending a hot grill. I still don’t know what the Company sells But I fake it while emphasizing good Customer service. Positive thinking Is our strategy. There’s a mean girl who’s Gunning for my job. She knows somehow dark Secrets. My salary, in coins, is too Heavy. I offload it to bribe the cops. 2. MY VERY PRESENCE I’m six years old but, oddly, have a wife In her hot 40s. She wants to make love. Lincoln Logs litter the floor, but the pieces I need to put a roof on my cabin Are gone. Can I finish it with Legos, I wonder. Wife says, You’re 90 years old! And I am, and she wants to make love. Well, Turns out, my very presence elicits Orgasm! I’m gratified, but Wife says Screw my presence, she wants a bungalow. 3. THE PERFECT JOB The space is bright, without visible walls, Filled with fresh air, with room to spread My muscular arms. My crisp, white lab coat Is the envy of my disembodied colleagues, Who gingerly present me butterflies Whose flights are done. I am the transfixer: Memorializing each brilliant, Flitting life by pinning their delicate Bodies onto a black background with pins Of light indistinguishable from stars. 4. FIRST FLIGHT By throwing all my lean mass into my Upthrust arms, like squeezing a tubular Balloon from one end, I gently lift off From the dirt expanse that was our playground, Which lay beside measured rows of desert Date palms, and I rise above the game I Can’t play because no one explains the rules. Kids say the date grove’s full of scorpions— Above the fronds, I can see it’s safe. You are free, I shout, to play hide and seek. 5. THIRTEEN YEARS OLD I wind up assisting the neighborhood’s Favorite babysitter. She is my Mentor, and I can’t let her know about My crush. I rock a crying baby and She puts it to sleep with a touch. Next she Shows me how to rummage all the drawers And cabinets for the parents’ secrets— We find prescription pills, dildos and guns. I’m worried she’ll find the love note I wrote, Foolishly lost in the kitchen, and laugh. 6. MY LEGACY Catty-corner at an intersection In the gaudiest section of Scottsdale Are the competing sperm banks trying to Outbid each other for my stuff. I’m in The driver’s seat, figuratively and Literally, negotiating by Bullhorn from my restored Lincoln Mark V. Look how perfect his kids turned out, they say— Smart and beautiful! Women from the banks Line up, eager to get mine without me. 7. THE MEANING OF OWLS Owls turn up in my initiation Dreams—in transitions, like twilights, when owls Stake out first-string hunting spots. Lakota Custom says death follows them. To the Greeks, Owl was the familiar to Wisdom. In Truth, they are monstrous beauties, evolved with Asymmetrical skulls and silent flight. They mess their nests with filth and bones. In their Own woods, they’re apex predators. Greek and Lakota are right—nothing escapes them. 8. PUT ON THE SPOT The game show host, a specter of unknown Moral bearing, puts me on the spot in An elimination round. The topic Is “Things that Are Sifted.” I think, goodbye, Grand prize. My gut tightens and hands shake. I’m Stumped—until—flour and sand—and the tension builds, Then, Starlight! Rain! Justice, faith, the poor! Every noun that I could ever love Is an answer. The audience starts the Wave. I prove that I know each of their names. 9. MOVING DAY The moving-day dream starts with the movie Of Mom throwing out that half-full box of Cap’n Crunch. Something’s wrong with this picture. Unlike in life, in the dream I know we’re Walking away from the first house, and I Take my time gathering all the dream things I had hidden in dream nooks and crannies. This dream visits often. Always when I Wake I question where my dream things are now, Then wonder what they are, were, or will be. 10. TRUE STORY The night before we told the children I Was leaving, I finished moonlighting at 3 A.M. and fell onto a cot in The basement with a prayer: Show me the Right thing to do. Crazy owl dreams followed— They were flocking on a playground while my Wife gave birth. Up early so I could rouse The small one, I was tongue-tied when she said She’d had a dream: She’d gone out to play but Stinky owls stopped her. Hell of an answer.
Peter Junker lives in Atlanta, GA. His book "Things Will Get Worse" was published by Kudzu Leaf Press in October, 2019.