Saturday, August 3, 2013

Gene McCormick- Three Poems

Deceit: Hook, Line & Sinker

Still early in the season, the fisherman wears
warm gear: a gray knotted and hooded
sweatshirt, baggy sweat pants, dark blue parka,
thick-soled waterproof shoes.
Short and reed thin, the predator’s gender
—concealed identity no consequence to the prey—
is acknowledged only by the unlined,
youthful feminine face partially exposed to
wind off the lake, and by slender hands
of some delicacy ungloved for a
better feel of the whippish fly rod.

A dry fly, a cork popper, cleaves gusty air
above a pond of prey, gliding with stealth for
thirty feet before settling with a quiet ripple.
Floating on the lake’s silvery surface,
from underneath the lure gives the enticing
appearance of a small frog or insect.

As the cork popper is being reeled in,
a mid-size bass snatches at sustenance:
the fish is hooked; the deceit is complete.
Squirm and resist though it does,
the life struggle is lost as the
young woman holds up the catch
to a companion for judgment.
Tonight the fish will be eaten.

In Saugatuck, Michigan

Far end of the tourist town there are three
short order restaurants in a row:
a greasy spoon, a pulled pork spot, a pizzeria.
First thing when entering the pizza joint
is the order counter—most of their business
is carryout—then four tables to the right
offering a voyeur’s view of street traffic,
a plate glass window panorama.
Behind the Employees Only door
there is one cook, occasionally kept company
by a server and the counter cashier.
Table setups are simple:
translucent red plastic glasses,
yellowing-once-white unbreakable dishes,
a knife and a fork. Tables and chairs are vintage
but undamaged, and everything is clean in the
family restaurant: Father is the cook, son
is the server, daughter is the cashier, mom’s dead.
The blonde kid waiter is about twenty,
dropping out of community college
to help keep the restaurant going.
(His father lost his big city job ten years ago,
moved to Saugatuck to open a pizza shop.)
We do a good carryout and delivery business,
he says, discounting the empty eat-in tables.
Used to live in Chicago, he says, where downtown
on Michigan Avenue there is a store that sells
shoes for $2,000 a pair. Can you believe that?
Two-thousand a pair. I’ll get back there some day.

Or maybe not. Likely his past, present and future
involves setting up plastic glasses on oilcloth-covered
tables, selling pizza by the slice or by the pie to
strangers in a tourist town doing a viable business
five months a year.

For Your Listening And
Dining Pleasure…

They have been a musical combo
for a long time. Used to play standards
from the 40s and 50s, now it’s the 80s, 90s.
She sings throatier, he plays strings
and they have performed in every
supper club in a five state radius.
When they first started professionally
they self-produced a few CDs,
selling them in the restaurants,
giving most to friends and regulars,
guested on the local PBS station
before everything turned stale.
They have played together so long
it is assumed they are married
—with different last names—
but they never bothered.
Back then, after the last set they’d hang out,
pound some whisky, do a joint
if the place was cool,
count tips, collect their money, and go
to their hotel room or apartment
and laugh at who got hit on the most.
They don’t drink so much anymore
(and smoking in restaurants is illegal),
seldom hang around after a gig
and while still sharing the same
hotel room or apartment
out of habit and financial necessity,
they drive home separately,
and don’t arrive at the same time.

Brief Bio: Whoever started the spurious rumor that Gene McCormick was going to marry into the Kardashian family should be horsewhipped, though McCormick only says “No comment.”

1 comment:

  1. Which Kardashian? Great poems regardless.