by Eric Roy
Why did I have to take the last fried chicken thigh
when I know ‘mom’ prefers the stronger flavored
dark? Why arrive at Sunday dinner in tight t-shirt
touting cheap, discontinued beer? Does it matter
I’m nearly the same age as her husband? Mosquitos
strafe my face & coo accusations in my ear. Honestly,
walking alongside this suburban street, I must look
lost in a comic book style fighting cloud complete
with cats & dogs chasing each other in jet-draft orbits.
This street has one of those signs informing passers-by
of their driving speed. When I walk by it reads:
PLZ DON’T CRAM THE GUEST ROOM TOILET
reminding me—what kind of person hangs the TP
turning from behind? & why wouldn’t anyone correct
that small injustice if they can? The 1891 patent
for toilet paper says: Place the roll with paper
falling from the top, & I’m trying, trying to let it
roll when 50 YRS OLD flashes on the sign as a cop
car screams out of hiding, running down a silver SUV.
Calm after the riot swallows me. Sunlight slides
down a playground sky. What difference does it make
ultimately, if a guy can’t get a decent tear on the roll
& winds up making a volleyball-sized wiping mitt
of toilet paper expectations after washing down
the final chicken thigh with a carafe of mother’s
chardonnay? Because I’m in love, so’s her daughter
& all this love is fat on the table flavorful, delicious.
The sign goes blank & stutters golden incandescence
like a preacher about to say what devil’s in the air.
Then SLOW starts to blink & it’s so damned obvious.
Eric Roy’s recent poetry is at or forthcoming from Sugar House Review, Bennington Review, Salamander, Salt Hill, Third Coast, and elsewhere. His short hybrid piece, “Origin Story” has been nominated for the Best Small Fictions 2021 anthology and can be read here.