“Career-Minded” by Bruce Cohen

Bruce Cohen


Who but a secret arsonist would ever volunteer to be a Volunteer Firefighter?
Naturally, aspiring Peeping Toms take on seasonal work as window washers.
As a non-licensed surgeon I precisely slice open your chest, examine your internal
Cavities, more suction please. I’ve no qualms about killing my engine, creating

An impromptu speed trap behind a billboard, pulling you over on a deserted dirt road,
Impersonating a State Trooper, asking you to please step out of your vehicle, please,
Place your palms on the warm hood, strip search you. This is a stick-up, a bank heist—
Elderly patrons too inflexible to make a transition to online banking—empty your

Pockets, hand over your jewelry. I don’t give a rat’s ass if that brooch is an heirloom.
Lay down or is it lie down on the floor, hands on your genitals. As a mortician I have
Made love to the dead who died young & sexy & almost always alcohol was involved.
No wonder we succumb to the primitive humiliation of a colonoscopy, allow medical

Professionals to fondle our testicles, cough, obediently. Here, put this blindfold on.
Stand motionless with your back against the wooden wheel. Don’t even breathe.
My lovely assistant will blindfold me as well & I’ll toss butcher knives along the outline
Of your voluptuous body. I work for the Cable Company & have wired & bugged

Your abode so we can spy your every intimate gesture & send you exorbitant,
Incomprehensible, arbitrary bills twice a month, but you suspected this all along.
So many things that used to be free you pay for now. Where will it all end?
Why are books disappearing but we feel compelled to document every vapid thought?

An editor, I shall plagiarize your blindly submitted personality, signed Red Beans and
Ricely yours. I am a dentist who extracts gold from your molars, drills random teeth,
Uses the same X-Ray for everyone. A handwriting analyst, I provide expert testimony
In court proceedings & verify the authenticity of famous autographs, but my sideline is

Check forgery. A trucker with a suspended license & multiple DUI convictions, I stay
Within the speed limit, or do I? I pawn off insurance to insurance companies like
A florist allergic to pollen, a bartending recovering alcoholic. I will re-tar your driveway
At a huge discount as I am in the neighborhood anyway, Saturday only, paid upfront.

No wonder so few of us are smart enough to estimate, let alone, calculate our own taxes.
I am a lactose intolerant milkman whose wife boogied away with the mailman,
A grocery bagboy who places your eggs & tomatoes at the bottom of the bag, which is
Never double bagged. I design impossible to beat carnival games, rings too small

For lopsided balls, balloons impossible to puncture. A pet store owner who insists
Your new puppy has had all her shots, I am on a first name basis with the Humane Society.
Would you hold please? I’m transferring you now to our complaint department.
No wonder frustration & road rage exponentially multiplies every time you lock

Your keys in your car. No wonder you slam your shopping cart into parked cars.
How can you muster the nerve to ask me where I see myself in five years, ten?
Those voting machines are hollow, connected to nothing but nitrous oxide tanks.
Leave room for dessert? Can I bring you anything else or would you just like a check?

from Rattle #40, Summer 2013


Bruce Cohen: “I was born in the Bronx, NY, and currently serve on the creative writing faculty at the University of Connecticut. I write poems just because.”

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