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Chad's First Poem

The Kama Sutra,

I don't have time for that bullshit

and I don't need a fortune teller to tell me

I'm going to get drunk and do something mean.

I'll tell you what: God

is way fond of the buddy-system,

your mother looks at me like I'm a cat,

and we won't be back, so let's be unrealistic.

Last night, a woman said to me, Chad,

I feel a restraining order coming on.

I deleted the idea.

Secretly, I was an olive.

pg. 3

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An Epistolary Poem of Chad's

Dear Sue,

seeing as I have the largest antenna this side of Fremont,

you shouldn't be surprised when I tell you that

yesterday I saw you interviewed on the South Bend evening news

or that I got mad when I heard you say

you'd never felt anything like the heat we're having.

Remember that night you wore your nurse's outfit for me—

I had to cool you with a fan and some cold Pepsi bottles after.

It was good anyway, remembering, and seeing you, if only on the screen,

though I sure as hell didn't like the looks of that guy next to you.

I'm writing this on a Tuesday.

Tomorrow I move west.

If you ever come home, you can have the microwave, the toaster oven,

and my new radio. I leave this note to that effect.

pg. 4

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A Poem of Chad's Translated into Chinese and Then Back into English By My Friend Bryce, Who Took Two Years of Chinese in College

Low red star


parking lot


Chad, sad

as Chad's been

ages and ages

wants bad

blue skirted

waitress Probably

not going to happen

Moon pale jade

In wind


pg. 5

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Chad's Poem about his Dad and America

Dad tells the story about how

when he was my age he was so poor

he had to eat soup, only soup.

That's most of the story. This is the moral of it:

now he roasts his own peppers

to make a special mayonnaise.

That's what's great about America, he says,

mayo and capitalism. I think it's bullshit,

the hardship myth; I'd be happy

never having to worry a nickel

my whole life. Dad says I'm lazy,

says I'll have to get a paying job soon.

Says look at the sixties, in the long run

almost every goddamn hippie went bourge—

pg. 6

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Chad's Poem about the Refrigerator

The old Super Deluxe Excellence refrigerator

makes metal breathing whirrs

every 12 to 15 minutes on the porch.

It's a mini fridge; been out here

25 years, landlady says, still works.

Inside 10 cans of an old, strange beer

wait cold and shut, and so I ask, how many hands,

would you guess have been in that fridge

besides mine and his and

what's happened to them since?

Landlady says she doesn't know, won't

guess. Says someone left it, and I can have it,

if I want, when I leave, but I don't.

It's breathing again as I try not thinking of it.

pg. 7

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Chad's Poem Nasally Imitating What Sue Tells Him on the Phone

"I like raspberry martinis.

I like peanut-butter chocolate martinis.

I don't like straight martinis.

I don't like gin martinis.

I like pumpkin martinis. I like citrus martinis.

I don't like apple martinis. I don't

like to drink blue or green things.

But I'll probably drink a blueberry martini.

Do they make those? Probably.

I called to say I like you, Chad,

like I like martinis . . . . . sometimes.

Manhattans, though, are my like

new favorite drink. Nicole

says I've been a bitch ever since."

pg. 8

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This is Chad's American Dream Itself

It's Tuesday. The trash has been collected,

and on television is every movie

he's ever wanted to see

except one, which he's rented.

And it's cloudy out, so there's no good reason why not

to watch them all. Maybe he'll stop around 2 AM,

maybe he won't stop.

This is Chad's dream and in Chad's dream

Chad doesn't have to get up tomorrow for anything.

So he stops recycling, takes control of the dream,

starts bending others' wills so they'll do whatever.

Even personal favors aren't too much to ask.

People, this is Chad's task:

He is his couch's chosen dreamer.

pg. 9

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Chad's Prayer


the various

poorly fastened

cylindrical objects that

could fly back off the bed of

a pick-up truck or eighteen-

wheeler I would

prefer to




pg. 10

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Chad's Poem about Spring

I am in my apartment when I smell this

smell and it's not a


smell anymore; it's a


smell, which gives me a stomach-ache,

the one I usually get between

ends and starts.

Maybe I should get married.

Maybe then I'd stop

dreaming of other bodies,

stop waking to feel

where on my own body

her arm might rest.

pg. 11

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Chad at the Johnny Appleseed Festival / Civil War Reenactment

Recreated, the Civil War seems wussier than Gandhi—

fat-ass Soldiers with their sculpted beards,

gun smoke mixed with whiffs of cotton candy.

Appleseed has a fenced-off gravestone here,

but I bet if he were alive today, we'd

throw him in a mental institution,

give him his hat-slash-pot to play with

and some courtyard lot to plant his seeds.

Even my Dad agrees with me on this—

America's been bureaucratized to piss.

There's no room left for future Johnnies

and no convincing these guys recreating war

to recreate what we really miss: orchards—

fat men, arms up, mimicking orderly trees.

pg. 12

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Chad's Poem Set Late at Night in His Van

So what if I feel good for being quiet

as the road I barely notice

I'm so used to it

shuttles by in the same swath my

headlights make over and over. You,

in the West with your mountains, canyons, and gorges,

it might unnerve you to imagine driving hours without

stories made of curve and slope, but for me

and these sleepers with their

open-mouthed faces slack

taut like stretched cloth

sameness is preferable

as no one will be jolted

and the charge made by the bodies of these three people

makes my van's blue-lit interior

holy as a sauna

built above miles of ice.

pg. 13

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Chad's Poem about Gabe, an Old Friend

The first night I held my liquor

better than he did, we were

among Sue's and my new church friends,

but where I had high hopes they'd

think as high of him as I did

he'd no notions of impressing them.

With spurted breath, his balls

hung purposely out his fly,

he told them they were the kind


then stood back, dared them to look.

Gabe: a brilliant, unschooled fuck

he is. I looked at him.

His hung like any man's did.

pg. 14

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Steuben County in Sunshine

Branch County is gray and you live there,

but to the south over the soy field you see

Steuben County's in sunshine.

You also see the line where gray meets sun and that

you come out on the wrong side.

It's like the one

where there's one, gray cloud above some poor guy's head

but actually above you is a storm system

spreading 600 miles north and into Canada.

You think it is, and it might be, but it's probably not

after you. When you live under the jet stream,

storms happen. But god,

if the straight edge-line you see of the storm

doesn't make you feel like you're a cocaine crumb

scraped across a mirror by someone's credit card.

Think of it, that crumb,

born far from his Cocoa brood,

alone, and worse, packed close with others like him

then sent away, ending up

prostrate on a dark surface below some human,

you are that cocaine. Everyone loves you,

the storm is pulling you to Canada or worse,

and when it turns red over your spot on the Doppler screen

a tornado will suck you up and drop you.

Steuben County's in sunshine. Where

is your lover, your warm food?

The line's invisible, but you feel it.

Branch County's hell because you're there.

pg. 15

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Chad's Poem about His Good Mood

Life is good, Sue. I don't say that enough.

The carpet I installed last year hides every possible stain,

which includes: cigarette ash, marinara, the goop

from a lava lamp, blood, other secretions

I won't speak of, and of course

pomegranate juice. Right now this woman

is singing from my stereo

some low pitched song about a dog,

which must be working in the same way as the carpet

seeing as it makes me feel ok being totally alone.

Sue, everything flattens,

when I'm in this sort of mood. I flatten. I think

who the hell am I? but in a good way.

pg. 17

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Chad's Poem about Sue's Little Shih Tzu Dog, Annie

Today I caught glints of predator

in Sue's little Shih Tzu's eyes

as it was barking at it's food,

the only thing in this world it's not afraid of.

Poor Annie, needy, smelly, nervous,

always shitting where you shouldn't,

you are a lesson

in how to make no one love you.

Today as I watched you take a mouthful of dog food,

drop it on the carpet, bark at the mound, then

gobble it up, I thought

you must be the most likely dog in this county

to be left deep in the woods.

Later though, when I saw Sue laugh,

then clean up the mush you left, it made more sense:

Sue loves things best that nobody else loves.

pg. 18

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Chad's Ghazal

The green, leather, comfortable but hideous chair in front of my TV

reclines automatically when it's hit by the force of My Butt.

I've sat my butt on many chairs, people, and objects

and always— the equal return of the force of My Butt.

That they come up to meet me, these forces, and are rarely overcome,

means the world is shaped by the force of My Butt,

but not without casualties: 3 lawn chairs, one director's, one ironic

sculpture of a chair—each lost to the force of Chad's Butt.

pg. 19

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Chad's Poem about Canada

Canada is a shame, a weathered history

of weather and I

am its dubitable son-in-law,

its rippled waters of—

The message the birds

don't know they are sending

has been sent to me

by the sky they are sending it from—

the sky streaked by jet clouds, bordered

by horizons of gray, the color.

Canada, I see you are gathering your fowl again.

They keep shitting on my lawn.

Soon I'll knock on the windows really loud

and scare them back north where they belong.

pg. 20

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Chad and Sue's Typical American Love Story

Secretly submissive Chad meets alcoholic

Sue who likes to diddle herself

in the movie theatre. The two fuck,

fall in love, move in together, start

hating each other privately, break up.

Sue goes to South Bend, gets citified.

Chad wants to gently rip all the heads

off the dolls she left, but instead

goes to the city, mortifies himself

enough to get Sue to come back home, which she does

on the condition Chad give her foot rubs

every night the rest of their god-damned lives.

Chad could give two shits; her back, he's happy

as a foot fetishist dog with a sock to play with.

pg. 21

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Chad's Poem about Work

I'm looking forward to the future though it may require great change.

For instance, probably I won't be spending Sundays

out at the sand bar partying with Shane and Mike, and

not often will I be twenty feet from a speed boat full of teenagers

getting drunk in daylight for the first time, though, to be clear,

I see little wrong in either case except for some law-breaking.

All summer I've been convincing myself all businessmen

do is construct horoscopes and, like good psychics, the best

master early the difference between likely and probable.

Likely the teens remember this day by

combination cigarette and lake smell,

by warm Budweiser —

Like a horrible

synchronized children's choir, the reeds

lining the nearest shore sway and bop.

pg. 22

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Chad's Poem about His Body


from a distance

when the shadow's right

my body in the mirror looks good.

Like the men in magazines,

I think: Cut,

ribs showing; abs

like a bar code—

But then each time I walk

closer to the mirror and light

that body

disappears to mine:

ribs slight hints

above my cylinder gut.

pg. 23

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Chad's Ode

O! How fuckin' wonderful it is to sit

outdoors and smoke, spit

through my teeth onto the grass,

how fuckin' beautiful to flick my butt onto the path

then go inside, walk to the pot

to piss, listen and like listening

as the piss stream hits, rings

out from the toilet water, hissing hot.

If I'm gross in praising this and not some woman or the sun

so is God for making me love

spittin' and pissin' and cussin' and smokin'.

Last week I fought the wall and the wall won;

I thought my own strength was enough.

I type with my left cause my right hand's broken.

pg. 24

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Chad's Ars Poetica in the Form of Anecdote

The other night my buddy Gabe belched

real loud after chugging his beer and said

put that in your book.

I told him I would, so here it is: EHHHGHGRHGKRHGKRRHRGHGRRK,

which is not really the burp, more a terrible transcription—

but one I think he'll be ok with. When the burp occurred,

we were playing my favorite drinking game, Me-You,

which you play with a friend right before going to the bars

by taking turns chugging a can of beer until it's gone.

It sounds stupid, I know, but the game has nuances—

Say Gabe's already had too much, I'll drink most of it.

Or if I had a bad week, and Gabe knows I need to get real,

real drunk, he'll take a sip, give it back and say ‘you don't need her,'

though he knows I do, knows damn well.

pg. 25

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Addendum, or Chad's Poem about Laying on the Sofa

I lay on the sofa

and on the sofa

I was not dying,

nor was I earlier, or,

I am,

but only in the way Sue refers to

when I get all funereal —

her eyes rolling,

"We're all dying."-

pg. 26

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Poems in this volume have appeared (in slightly different iterations) in cream city review and Faultline.

pg. 27

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Copyright Devin Becker 2010
Created April 2010; last updated March 2011