FAST LANE

it’s chutes and ladders
and ups and downs
and elevators that go to nowhere
and people who talk to much
and the quiet ones
who you always have to worry about
and there’s just so much noise
and noise and noise
excessive noise
and there’s cars that rip by
and invisible night pedestrians
in all black who you almost hit
who you only see in your rear view mirror
and they’re condemning the building
to make a church
and they’re imploding the church
to make a big box business store
and the grass dies beneath the floorboards
but the people live above the linoleum
and there’s a man playing a violin
and the sun is out and its day
and we’re bustling and bustling
and we’re packing the groceries
into the cart
and we are hunters
fierce commercial hunters
and we are bringing home the bacon
to the twelve screaming baby birds
and we are feeding them the worm
and raising them to fly
and teaching them to move
at five hundred miles per hour
like the rest of
and the hustle and the bustle
continues on and we are blurs in transit
we are smears on the sides of car windows
and some of us are flies on the windshield
but there is no time to stop
because we have our final destination in mind
and we have no clue how to get there
and the gps is sending us in circles
and the cabby doesn’t speak english
and the line is out the door
and we’re moving, we’re moving
we’re constantly in motion
the world is turning and somedays
it is turning against us
but we keep in motion
at a pace faster than those before us
and the escalators ascend us to heaven
where we check out through the fast lane
ten items or less
with twenty things in our carts
and we are opening the back gate of the minivan
and we are shuffling around the city
and we are listening to the radio song
at 60 beats per minute
and we are motion
we are constant constant motion
and we are double-lane fast food
we are roaring engine
we are dying phone battery
and did anyone notice the violin player?

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2013

READ “NATIONAL ANTHEM OF ANYWHERE”

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“A SUMMER CIGAR” BY NICI E. BROWN

Recently, I ran into this poem and thought it was fantastic. I know it’s the middle of winter, but I think maybe that is the best time for a summer cigar.

A Summer Cigar

Glass splits burgundy into facets
through the crystal ball of a wine glass
that has no power to tell the future,
only quiet it down to a numbness.
I have to laugh at the idea
of a ten dollar bottle of wine paired
with a ten dollar cigar.
It takes four matches to light -
What hidden pleasures
will the thick, spicy smoke enhance
in my cheap Malbec?I hear the neighbors cursing at each other,
taking the stress of back-to-back retail jobs
and a janitorial position during graveyards
out on the family they work for,
the bus hydraulics hissing from Meridian,
an immigrant grandmother laughing as she ticks
off hopscotch numbers with her first-generation
grand-daughter in between planting
her soon-to-be blooming annuals in the neat
boxes of her tiny Garden of Eden
in poor East Boston, a pristine space, the only thing
still sandwiched between calamity and the sea.

Smoke curls from my lips
to cast about into the breeze.
I have to keep pace with the cigar
and carefully note the wind’s strength.
If I smoke too little
the flame will go out.
Sometimes I think we could break with the intensity
that’s in the beauty of a single moment in our own skins
but the taste is fleeting,
quick to be scattered away.

Life only deals out
happiness fractured into fragments
here and there, from time to time.
For some reason, I always reach
for the same happiness recipe
though I never have the same ingredients.
You’ve got to learn to cook what’s in your kitchen.

It’s been a long winter, so
get drunk on summer, and spin
what love you can from the warm air.

When the cigar burns down,
the closer [it] gets to my lips, the
sparser my breaths become, or
it’ll burn too hot.

READ MORE POEMS BY NICI E. BROWN

READ “A GIRL NAMED AMERICA” BY ME, BRICE MAIURRO

Interested in having a poem featured? Email me at bricemaiurro@gmail.com. Please just one submission at a time, until I get back to you.

THEATER #17

do you know what it’s like to tear tickets at a podium
standing on the same set of legs for twelve hours?

i do.

do you know what it’s like to make enough popcorn
to feed the swarming, blood-thirsty masses
of horny adolescent locust cows
filtering mercilessly into the concession stand?

to burn a perfect batch of kettle corn, terrified
as the sweet smoke rises towards the fire detectors
and you know if it gets to be too much
that the alarms will sound
and the box office will have to refund
every ticket sold that evening
to the growling sheep ready to pounce at guest services?

to sit alone in a giant room filled with candy
disgustingly suicidal at three in the morning
counting pieces of stale sour strips by the pound
when all you want is to go home
and die for a day or two in your warm bed?

to wear a three-piece-suit in a congested concession stand
making popcorn bites and overpriced pizzas
while your sixteen-year-old cohorts jack off behind you?

to hold the door for the smiley motherfuckers coming out
of rancid movie theaters leaving behind used condoms
and the scent of bad chainsaw-slasher-horror-movies
and pubescent screams like sadistic adolescent dry humps
in the back of minivans?

to digest a three-course-meal of super nachos
topped with synthetic guacamole
and diluted jalapenos
and insecure sour cream and cheese
that turns to stone in your lower intestines
that you eat on a ten minute grace period
between cleaning monster theaters
where children find ways of getting sour patch kids
and malted milk balls stuck on the ceiling?

to tell the new hires to go get more ice mix
or to only scrub the yellow squares of the carpet
because they’re the only ones that get dirty
or to tell them to go clean theater seventeen
because haha, there’s only sixteen theaters here?

to escape from the cinematic madness to the back room
where the drink compressors hiss
and the dishwasher gargles
and there’s a starry-eyed girl waiting there
and in the midst of gladiator battles and spaceship races,
there is a moment of nothing

where the universe puts its phones on silent
and you too can kiss like you think you know what love is?

to run the satellite food station on a tuesday night
which means you have plenty of free time
to contemplate why you need a second food staion
open a god-forsaken tuesday night?

to have your boss pull you aside to tell you
that you can’t show up to work drunk anymore
and it’s okay if you’re late
just call.

to lock up the front doors at closing
and then to unlock the arcade games
so you and your stupid coworkers can play pinball
and DDR to your little infantile heart’s content
and little known fact -
the high scores on the arcade games at the movie theater
are held by the employees of said movie theater.

to walk to the last bus in the streetlight twilight
with a black trash bag full of popcorn
that keeps you company on the lurking ride home?

to be a ghost in the projector room
to be God flashing images of everylife and eternal heartbeat
onto the anorexic white screen of pure truth?

to sit in a GMC Jimmy at four in the morning
listening to song ADD with a sweet girl
who happens to be your boss
who you like to make out with -
who cares?!
the movie theater isn’t exactly your five-year-plan?

to go talk to the widowed ticket-taker
who hugs you with her eyes
and tells stories the way stories are meant to be told
between two people
instead of between a gaggle of morons
and a billion dollar budget?

to be stuck in the money room
starving for food and moonlight
but you aren’t leaving
until one hundred dollars finds itself?

to go home smelling like decaying sugar
and italian sodas and superficial butter and sweat
and the dead babies living in the squeaky movie theater seats
and coke and diet coke and icees, yeah, blue raspberry icees
and all-beef hot dogs and so much drama
and it was the worst job ever and it was yes.

just yes.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO

READ “WENDOVER, UTAH”