Bio Note: I was born and raised in central New Jersey. For the last nineteen years, I have been an academic advisor, working for Rutgers University. Some of my poems have appeared in San Pedro River Review, Eunoia Review, and US 1 Worksheets. My latest book, Reassure the Phoenix (Aldrich Press), was published this year and can be found on Amazon.com.
Mop and Broom
This is an epicenter of the first world:
a wine and hors d’oeuvres soiree
hosted by the Ninth Bank of Manhattan.
A multitude mills around the old museum
holding wine glasses,
dressed for worship
though some look like
they got out of bed
mowed their lawn
and ran here without showering.
I am my fiancée’s guest,
the financial beta of our union
listening to a jazz band
while she talks to a branch manager.
My bank never invited me
to anything like this.
I can’t even get
an e-card on my birthday.
I lean against a wall
trying to eat from a fist-sized plate.
Dropped forks ring out reminders
my father spent forty years
cleaning up after people.
His mop and broom
put me through college
allowing me to blend
uneasily but almost convincingly
with such sophisticated company.
She Didn’t Seem to Mind
I arrive a few minutes before
the concert is to start
enter the bathroom
and quickly head for a stall.
Urinals make me uncomfortable.
Other men always want to talk.
Some of us just want to pee.
This should be a good performance:
Berg’s Violin Concerto
and Orff’s Carmina Catullus.
My only concern is being seated
next to a cougher.
Leaving the bathroom stall,
I see an old woman washing her hands
and scowl at her senility
until I notice there are no urinals.
In the year since I’ve been here,
they made the men’s room the ladies’ room.
Tempering my panic,
I walk very softly
hoping she will mistake me for a woman
or ignore me completely
but I am six foot five in a black jacket,
a giant vulture perched on a 1950’s TV
that throbs with static.
She looks up
her reflection in the mirror
like a starter pistol.
I run to the exit, explaining and apologizing
imagining handcuffs and fingerprinting
being put on a watch list
for sexual predators.
As I dart through the door, she says:
Don’t worry about it, honey.
A Sharp Piece of Wedding Cake
She pulls me into a bakery
specializing in wedding cakes.
A girl at the counter smiles
shows us a giant book of photographs.
I stand by my beloved’s side while she browses
trying to share in her excitement
but these cakes are monuments to vanity:
This one has Greek columns holding up each level.
She stops to coo over one
that measures nearly half her size,
wreathed with red and pink flowers:
a polar bear standing in a rose garden.
A plastic groom sits at the top.
I imagine him with pockets turned inside out
a hangman’s noose around his neck,
three times wider than he is
inserting a syringe of insulin
into her thigh
just above the garter.
The girl tells me
couples often put a slice of cake
into the freezer
and eat it on their first anniversary.
I respond if our first year doesn’t go so well
I can always impale myself with it
while it is still frozen.
That little comment
turned into a four-day argument.
©2020 John David Muth
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF