August 28, 2009

William G. Ward

A VISIT TO THE SUPERMART

There are reservoir-tipped Shaker condoms hooked openly in plain view on
aisle 14 which causes Rev. Day conniptions, and I remember when you had to
edge up to the druggist and ask for rubbers and he would palm a pack into your
hand like he was breaking all ten commandments, and now here they are out in
the open, liberated latex at last, next to Baby Wipes and Tinactin for the feet
and ProxiStrips, all marked down in price on white stickem strips,

then I wind up in framed pictures and hangings, where I got a nifty litho by
Adam Schoolcraft for 7 bucks and works by Gertrude O’Nasty and Jolly Nair,
and you can make a whole museum of pictures at 7 to 10 dollars each, paintings
of bees smelling roses, of kids pissing on stoops, and an imaginative
embossing of Great Grebes flying into the setting sun, all of which goes to prove
that the art is not in the price, and every Saturday I get to sort through carelessly
flung panels looking for another H. Smythe or Maria Orange,

and licorice bits on sale at only 99 cents a bag because they are today a bluelight
special which brings customers running from all parts of the store, and
while you have the chance you might as well stock up on three or four which is
definitely not such good advice because when I get all that candy back home I
go through it like a thresher goes through wheat, and over-sugared my brain
gets fuzzy, and I sweat, and the lightning will zing,

and once I bought a psychedelic watch for 19.98 which got all sorts of
comments like, “What’s that on your wrist?” or, “How can you tell time with a
watch like that?” and they don’t get the part that I don’t wear a watch to tell
the time, but mostly to decorate my wrist which is about the dullest part of
anatomy I can imagine, unless it is the kneecap,

then the final stop: a bagging girl, trim little thing working for 4.30, no package,
always asks, a ritual that never fails, “Paper or plastic?” and if I need something
for garbage I say, “Paper,” and if I need to line cat boxes I say, “Plastic,” evaluating
and deciding, the intellectual process, and the bagging girl usually is
obliging, and gives me paper if I ask for paper, and well, you get the drift.

from Rattle #30, Winter 2008