"Worse than Normal"

Alan Gilbert


I used Groupon to pay for a cruise,

      then paddled behind in a dinghy.

We get to dine at the captain's table

      whenever he's away.

That's when you showed me

      how to walk a lobster

before breaking down in tears,

      as I count the rows

to the emergency exit because

      there's only one wing on this plane.


We drove to the center of the city,

      but it doesn't exist.

Yet rejection still stings, making words

      out of letters found

in the dumpster behind Fish and Fancy,

      stirring the cinders like a soup.

There are cupcakes for celebrating

      that day too, and punch by the ladle

tapped against your chest in place of

      an expectorant or wood rot or I'm sorry.


Next up, the song of the summer,

      and this email I really shouldn't send,

the way an octopus gives a hug

      to the hurt machine.

It might be easier to draw a picture,

      although it's important to accessorize

with glue guns and plastic,

      with health clinic waiting lines,

with imitation star charts,

      and sleeping pills next to the bed.

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Author Bio: Alan Gilbert is the author of two books of poetry, The Treatment of Monuments and Late in the Antenna Fields, as well as a collection of essays, articles, and reviews entitled Another Future: Poetry and Art in a Postmodern Twilight.