If you treat
Midwestern Poetry, By Terry Scott Niebeling
If you treat
This is Art.
Situations ( how I talk ): drinks after class
I’m at a convenient store on West Bank
Dust blowing in the wind
on a partially torn up sidewalk,
At a convenient store on West Bank
I’m in line to get cigarettes,
With a friend,
And my contact falls to the floor
Blurry and shit,
I can’t see…
It’s on the ground,
Patting my shirt, do you see?
I gleam the phosphorescence of it in the dim florescent light,
On the dirty floor,
What those had tracked in,
I pick it up.
Ali’s behind the counter selling cigarettes
Big bright smile
Looks at me
Hey, do you have any…
He doesn’t have solution;
But he can help,
Standing there, palming the lens
I tell him to give me some Visine
I unbox it
I pop the top
With the ease of expertise
Sit at a table
Some people are eating,
They get up and leave
I’m putting my eyeballs in.
Wetted the crumby table,
then I could see.
I wiped up what I had spilt.
And put the bottle in my bag to leave.
Thank you sir rang aloud as bells on the door-
Happily no longer in discomfort,
Then I walked across the street to Palmer’s.
A weekend’s worth of cigarette smoke.
In lungs as it was,
An empty yellow pack
on a cluttered coffee table;
an Indigenous effigy affixed on the front,
laying creased and crushed.
Dirty caked pealing fingers
Hangnail cuts a cloth uneven
Expensive wines stained flesh
Blood let late this summer that went
I spent two weeks in one night…
translucent green Seaweed
whole and Uncooked Quail Eggs
there they lay
of Expensive Fish.
Let’s not forget the numerous rounds of cloudy white sake.
Champagne flow pained frontal lobe.
Nights let grow, as days let wane.
Through campus- through school,
on legs that bend- shooting pain.
Feeling as crumpled paper; trashed.
Sprawled across the lawn in the grass,
People playing games as I move past,
A backpack fully packed, on back.
When: all of sudden preparation for another week began.
And I have to leave it at that.
Money does not matter.
Stench to prove-
Ammonia and hardened poop.
What it is.
No king cleans out cat shit.
In the air hangs
remnants of digested remains.
Hands to rearrange
Next to the toilet stool
What a silly fool
To be a cat;
To actually rule.
Fall comes just as our sneakers have worn in
Our bike seats touch familiar under buttocks
Dying grass and flowers thin; bend in the wind,
Tree’s leaves affect intensely displayed colors.
Pools close and drain, with new frost to blame.
Mothers count their wandering curious young.
A yellowing sun grows faint, shadowing its loss.
Fathers light expensive brown cigars for fun.
Dogs and cats play-excited, loud and rowdy,
Leaves and debris blow thru them in the yard.
Cold holidays come nearer, passing yet again,
Each year grows tired, cold, aloof, and hard.
On destiny we wait; fleeting speed of time,
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter yet again align.
This lonely night,
as I scrub clean the soiled dishes.
Wet hands, same the front of my day-old shirt;
dinged pale, blotched, and loose.
Nothing in its place;
corners catching everything,
dirt sticking to the floor,
as the cat meows an indecipherable slight.
All of this would be impossible if it were tried.
Still, stifling hot,
humid as the night goes on,
sits a lonely parking lot.
There is no relief, save for another extreme; Midwest seasons.
-We know, we know.
Small things noticed under skin,
this sliver- this time, sharp and razor thin.
Walking into this empty living room
the radio addresses the score loudly.
Sitting on the couch I put my feet up,
and sink in.
Oh, what a night.
Huffing and puffing
Ride to work
in the sky
the dew point record;
Values darkened and stiff,
These puffy entities-
Radio in earbuds, bag stuck to back, stinging, burning, sloughed off skin, in movements, in moments.
Now the day begins.