• Danny Caine

Four poems // Danny Caine

#UPFORWHATEVER

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.

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