Four poems // Danny Caine
Kyle, because we saw you
holding a bottle of Bud Lite we know
you’re #UPFORWHATEVER happens—
why don’t you go upstairs and see
how we SURPRISED YOU
with KATE UPTON
wearing NOTHING BUT BUBBLES
in your MASTER SUITE.
What’s that? You’re worried
about what your wife will think?
Forget that shrill feminist! Look
on your desk—waiting for you
is a DOPE NEW STACK
of FRESH DIVORCE PAPERS.
All you have to do is sign on the line,
Kyle. Welcome to BUD LITE NATION
where MEN RUN FREE and your kids
have been shipped off to boarding school
FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS
so they can’t BUG their AWESOME
DAD at his NEW JOB with the FBI—
the FEMALE BODY INSPECTORS.
Kyle, don’t even say it—but I liked
my old job. I thought I was a pretty good
second grade teacher. FUGGEDABOUTIT.
We sent LIAM NEESON to YOUR CLASSROOM
to tell the kiddos that Mr. Kyle was EXECUTED
by ISIS. He told them your LAST WORDS were
“DON’T FORGET YOUR SPELLING QUIZ
YOU LITTLE TURDS.” Now you’re FREE
to PLAY X-BOX ALL DAY. Thirsty?
We replaced your fridge with another fridge
SHAPED LIKE A BOTTLE OF BUD LITE
FILLED WITH BOTTLES OF BUD LITE!
Drank so much Bud Lite you have to pee?
WE PUT A URINAL IN EVERY ROOM.
No more sit-down pissing, yuppie boy.
Speaking of yuppie boy, look at those
PANSY TIGHT JEANS. Is there
even room for balls in there?
We replaced your ENTIRE WARDROBE
with BADASS BUD LITE SWEATS.
We replaced your collection of family photos
with HI-DEFINITION PORTRAITS
of CONSTRUCTION EQUPIMENT.
You liked your sensible Honda? TOO BAD.
Say hello to your BUD LITE BLUE
HUMVEE. Like to read the paper
with a bowl of Cheerios every morning?
SCREW THAT. Give a BUD LITE
WELCOME to CANDY, your PERSONAL
LIVE-IN BIKINI BACON CHEF.
Listen to you, Kyle. It wasn’t even my Bud Lite.
My friend left it here. IT DOESN’T MATTER.
Holding ANY Bud Lite is a PASSPORT
to AWESOME. What do you mean,
please get out of my house please? We’ll leave
AS SOON AS YOU STOP CRYING,
GO TO THE FRIDGE, and
CRACK THE ICE COLD BUD LIGHT
OF YOUR DESTINY.
Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day
Young lady I will indeed pay for my
Chunky Monkey. This is America—
there’s no such thing as a free cone. Take
my money. I am paying you at a fair
market price for goods and services rendered
because that’s how the whole system works. No
it’s not a tip. Don’t even get me started on tipping.
You give me stuff, I give you money. I sure as hell
didn’t earn my family’s first college degree by way
of gratis desserts. No I will not step aside, and do not
sir me. I don’t care if there’s a line. I’ll be happy to leave
after you do your job as a cashier, as a citizen, and get paid
by me. The America my dad stormed Normandy for
is built on hard work, not handouts. You know what?
Fine. Keep your Chunky Monkey. Go to hell Ben,
and you too Jerry. Take your commie cone day
to Cuba or China or Brooklyn or something,
just get it out of my country.
Four Friars, Each Alike in Dignity, In Fair Washington DC
I get rush tickets for a performance
of Romeo and Juliet and I’m killing
time before the show just sitting
in the back row looking at the set—
a kind of CONTEMPORARY
abandoned banquet hall with stacks
of those gold chairs from every
semi-classy wedding reception.
All of a sudden, in walks one
two three four friars, actual friars
in white robes and beads and sandals
and everything. I didn’t know they
still made friars. But it makes sense—
I bet actual friars fucking love
Romeo and Juliet the way Wookiees
love Star Wars. The house is still
mostly empty, basically just me staring
at a row of buzzed heads rising from
white hooded shoulders in a theater
shoved into a row of DC gentrified
garbage restaurants, fusion places
with singular noun names, 15 dollar
tableside guacamole service, industrial
salvage shit all over neon uplit cinderblock
and leatherbound menus you can’t even
read because the fucking filament bulbs
don’t actually do anything. Outside
orange VALET cones blocking
every spot in front of one of those
DIGNIFIED Starbuckses you see
in buildings with tall windows and
banners declaring THIS IS THE
PLACE FOR DISTINGUISHED
URBAN LIVING AVAILABLE
NOW WITH UNITS STARTING
at a number that takes me 10 years
to even think about let alone earn,
in other words no place for a goddamn
friar—sorry for my language, gentlemen.
Just ignore me. I hope the guy they got
to play your man tonight is good.
I hope you wince in fun horror
as act four treads into unfriarlike
moral territory. Then, stand and clap
till your hands hurt and slowly walk
into that unholy night.
The United States of Dodge City
The weary traveller rolls into Dodge City at Summer’s height—gun season,
when cops and criminals alike are mowed down on the street. Just tonight,
the weary traveler witnessed a gang standoff that left 10 dead.
Only the sheriff and a deputy rose from the carnage, asking for help
diggin an awful lotta graves. Me, the deputy said, well I’m busy tonight, and…
for a month. The sheriff looked at the weary traveller and the other bystanders,
and offered a big ole jug a’ whiskey in payment. Miracle of miracles, the gang leader
leapt back to life, hollerin’ did someone say WHISKEY?! The sheriff shouted
SHUT UP! YOU’RE S’POSED TA BE DEAD! The weary traveller laughed. Clapped. Everybody did. All the men, shot down for cattle rustling or trying
to shoot down cattle rustlers, rose, shook hands with the kids, posed
for Instagrams. The weary traveller followed everyone into the saloon
for a beer and a variety show. The next morning over continental breakfast
the weary traveller reads the Dodge City Daily Globe editorial, trying not to spit out
his milk—This is 2016, it says. All Americans should be looked at as red, white, and blue,
not as their skin color or mannerisms. Yes, black lives matter. That should go without saying.
In fact, all lives matter, which should also go without saying. The weary traveller could say,
easy for you to say, Dodge City, selling tickets to a pile of corpses every night, you
performing pioneer justice to peddle personalized keychains. You firing blanks like fireworks and displaying guns like Picassos in a hushed gallery. You who write
Black lives matter. Blue lives matter. Every human life matters. Do cattle rustlin’ lives matter?
The traveler keeps readingas The Globe spins: It’s insulting we even have to discuss it
and it’s stupid many people just want to argue about it. He could say I’ve seen stupid:
the deputy stroking his “scatter gun.” He could say I’ve seen stupid: the deputy
shoots first, killing one of the “bad guys.” From behind. He could say
In Dodge City, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy
with a bigger gun shooting the bad guy in the back. He could say I’ve seen stupid
in the United States of Dodge City, where you’re not from round here and other crimes
like cattle rustling, or talking back during a traffic stop, or riding in a Baltimore
police van, or buying skittles in a hoodie all call for frontier justice: trial, sentencing,
death penalty simultaneously in the middle of the goddamn street all summer long.
He could say holding a toy gun in a park gets you killedin Cleveland and applause
in Dodge City. He could say it, shout it over the waffle iron and the baskets
of saran-wrapped fruit. He could turn off the Fox News and turn up his voice.
He doesn’t. The weary traveler is growing sick of guns and bodies in the street
and being quiet and Fox News. But is he sick enough to say something?
The weary traveller was pulled over on the way here for “Left Lane Cruising.”
In Western Kansas, that means driving a car with Colorado plates. As the sheriff
searched his car, the weary traveller imagined the ways it could have gone different
if he looked different. It wasn’t hard. Speak up, weary traveler. Say it’s stupid:
anywhere but Dodge City there’s no applause, no PA announcer telling us
the stage show starts soon, no sweaty reenactor selling $1 souvenir 8x10 photos
in vintage, retro, black and white.
Danny Caine is the author of the chapbook Uncle Harold's Maxwell House Haggadah (Etchings Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in Hobart, New Ohio Review, DIAGRAM, Mid-American Review, and other places. He's music editor of At Length. Hailing from Cleveland, he lives in Lawrence, Kansas where he's a bookseller at Raven Book Store. More info at dannycaine.com.