July 3, 2012

Jeffrey Franklin


If you were Gidget or Gigi or Glorianne from Kansas,
you might kick both feet up behind like a miniature pony,
sending the pleated skirt too high, squeal and run
to bounce on the bed with flipped cockroach legs.

But instead you are tired after the happy disaster, the bad
fantasy, the aging family members and mirror phobia,
not to mention the failed restaurant. This isn’t Daytona
Bike Week, nor your first time in Paris, and you are

all too aware what they charge for those dinky bottles.
No, you’ve brought your own fifth, picked up
at Dino’s Liquor and Car Wash before you checked in.
Today was not the day your happy childhood predicted.

You are sad with a sadness only a single room matches.
This is your reward, this view of curtained windows
exactly like yours, these industrially sanitized towels,
this generic solitude… You slip off your shoes

and click on the scrolling menu of tonight’s movies:
a meteor the size of Cleveland, or sadistic murder
justifies the most thorough revenge ever quenched.
Things are looking up. You amble over to the minibar,

lift the white fluted paper cap from the cafeteria
and crack your bottle of Sky. For just one moment,
your heart soars: there, in the plastic bucket,
still smoking with cold, perfect lozenges of ice.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Tribute to Buddhist Poets

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July 8, 2011

Jeffrey Franklin


Where I come from, what they call “living right”
most often means no liquor and no sex
except what’s sanctioned by the state of marriage,
and only then with hurried indifference,
plus regular appearances at church.

Only men need worry about living right,
since women got themselves or had been stuck
minding the store of moral goods and notions
and, as far as men could tell, forgotten how
to live wrong. And so naturally such men,

resenting women for the only power
left them to exercise, and guilty too
for their aversion to living right, wrested
a counter definition from the margins
of socially acceptable behavior,

according to which they failed to love the children
the women had, in their minds, forced upon them,
and took to the woods, where they might exercise
a purgative prerogative to kill
followed by heavy drinking, during which—

and usually while pissing side-by-side,
gazing up at a bleary moon together—
they’d in an epiphanic gush concur
that this was—goddamn right!—living right.
So, this morning when our houseguest said,

“You folks sure know how to live right,” I paused.
Surely not the Southern brimstone version,
and not its virile doppelganger either;
not the living right that characters
in films affect—and their actors imitate—

of smoking fifty-buck cigars, driving sports cars
faster than the speed of self-inflation
until the cancer or the smash-up gets them;
and not the New Age fix of cheating death
via a regimen of fitness training

punctuated with rewards of tofu
braised in Thai spices, though I admit
we had served him miniature vegetables
stir-fried in ginger sauce the night before.
If what he meant was wine for taste and laughter

shared among friends, love-making not as often
as once we did, though still intense, less hurried
if sometimes silly, sometimes reverential
on a Sunday morning with the kids still sleeping
for close enough to church, all regulated

by a love of work, the sum of which puts us
halfway between the Buddhist Middle Way
and middle-class protesting conformity,
then, hell, let’s share a fifty-cent cigar
and go for a spin in the station wagon, honey.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010

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