“Kurt Vonnegut Stepped Off the Plane” by Jeff McRae

Jeff McRae


Sipped from his flask crossing the shoals and my girlfriend
drove him to campus. She was always involved with
something and I was involved with her, showed up
at the studio Sunday morning when she painted her post
modern trees, followed her to the African textiles show.
Stop trying to make yourself cry, she said when she
dumped me. Vonnegut followed her around for the afternoon.
She bought him ice cream with a couple dollars from
the student group petty cash. They speculated about the age
of the oak on the quad all while he accepted small mouthfuls
of praise. I broke out in hives. No poems—not mine
nor those of Wordsworth—were going to bring her back.
It was fucking over. Done. I didn’t have the chance
to play her the version of “Moon River” I’d worked up
for our hump day movie night. Vonnegut took the stage
in a stupor and rambled in and out of amplification,
from poetry to the art of fame. It was about becoming,
he explained at the end of his talk, trussing his dangling ideas,
taking everyone’s breath. Become a better person, he said.
Years passed. She wrote me an old fashioned letter.
I wrote back. We had three children. This morning
she told me the dog threw up on the rug last night.
I descended the stairs thinking even what you fling
far away, like some primitive weapon, returns.

from Rattle #75, Spring 2022


Jeff McRae: “I started to write poems because of the Murder, She Wrote intro. Now I write them because they’re important. Okay, they’re not important. Murder, She Wrote was important. The poems are a fun challenge that sometimes every once in a while result in greater understanding. Whose I have no idea.”

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