Jack Powers, “State of the Union”

Jack Powers is the author of Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. He recently retired after teaching special education in Redding, Connecticut for 38 years. Visit his website: http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry/.

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State of the Union

Now that they’re alone, Phil’s chewing sounds louder. And do you need
to scrape the plate for every last scrap? Clare asks. At least, he says,
I don’t put my shoes on the bed. Or say “et cetera” when I mean “et al.”

Our neighbor Eve tells us about her husband’s man cold, his dramatic sniffles.
Even when he takes her to the hospital to pass her kidney stone,
he begs the nurse for a lozenge. Men! I join in since I’m outnumbered.

You need to put the tines down for safety, June says, putting forks in the dishwasher.
Oscar shakes his head for the thousandth time. Tines down, they never get clean.

Our friends argue in the car. She shouts, Did you see that truck? Are you blind?
He swears, smacks the wheel. Shut up! We wonder: Can this marriage be saved?
He parks, they smile, he helps with her coat. She asks if she can carry his camera.

Now that I’m retired my wife has more time to stare at me. You yawn a lot.
she says. Your nostrils are too small. With the children up and gone, I distract her
with the dog, the TV, ask about her day. These nostrils aren’t getting any bigger.

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