Saturday, December 19, 2015

Todd Mercer- Three Poems

Before Jackson Prison

Risking salmonella, e. coli, worms
and the approbation of his wife and children,
the bootlegging bigamist eats uncooked hamburger,
eats it whenever he wants to feel strong.
He’s all sinew and ingenuity. He seems indestructible,
this hardnosed gold miner turned rum runner. A businessman
with legal enterprises that cover other ones, during Prohibition.
Risking divorce or domestic homicide, he lives here
and lives with equal vigor elsewhere,
with an unknowing other wife and younger children,
a busy man whose constant out-of-town affairs
keep him weeks away. A maximalist of appetites;
a capable carrier of heavier concerns
than most men can sleep soundly under,
in the bosom of the family home.
Or the other family home. Lessons learned
from deprivation as a young man in the Yukon,
fade in recollection as middle-age rolls on.
He’s expanding distribution, since
county authorities present little threat.
It’s these Feds with pointed questions that have him
ill at ease. The bigamist’s daughters and sons
eat their burgers cooked, conventionally.
They aim to marry one spouse each
once they’re grown and schooled.
He didn’t pass on the cast iron gut,
or the innovative conscience.
Some are made to consume life
straight from the grinder.
And then there’s everybody else.

Bad Mojo, Bridge-side

“It’s brutal, the eternal rat race out there,”
says the man who resides under the bridge
here beside the Grand River.
“They’ll ruin you to get ahead,”
warns the man we gave a blanket,
who offered up a sip of his
brown-bagged worldview,
“I’m not having any part of that.”

Junk Emporium
Curios and relics of empires that aren’t empires
these days line the antiquarian’s gallery shelves. Icons
of saints, their names waylaid, appeal
to believers in divine intercession. A shopper
with discretionary funds can take a
symbol home, ornament
their space with treasure,
crafts created at the zenith
of this or that eternal sun,
which set so long ago.

TODD MERCER’s story “What We Learned From Honesty Day” won the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Award for 2015. His digital poetry chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s recent poetry and fiction appears in: Apocrypha & Abstractions, Bartleby Snopes, Blast Furnace, Eunoia Review, Gravel, The Lake, Liars’ League NYC, Literary Orphans, Misty Mountain Review, The Magnolia Review and Main Street Rag Anthologies. Todd Mercer is Poetry Editor at The Legendary.

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