Lucky So Far
Poems by Will Walker

Girl With A Parole Hearing

     (voice recognition software mishearing
     of  Girl with a Pearl Earring)
What to wear? Nothing too sexy, cleavage is out,
but some leg to catch the officer’s eye discreetly,
no jewelry to speak of—diamonds or pearls,

or even convincing fakes. Makeup should be light,
some foundation, easy on the mascara,
and avoid perfume. I am a good girl now,

no longer inclined to larceny, though it’s still easy
to boost some blush or flash my dazzling smile
and filch a few art books to fence around

the corner. Embezzling, though: I don’t even think
about it anymore—not such easy money
after all. If I can just skate today, I’ll take a break,

have a smoke and maybe look for a real job.
I hear casino dealers do just fine, and I’ve always
looked great under neon lights. And everybody’s

got a hustle there. I should fit right in.
No hats: definitely no hats. And heels, but something
demure. I’m a changed woman, Officer, honest.


Revolution is the province of the young.
Failing wholesale upheaval, the kids settle for scorn,
outrage, disgust. Then comes the mellowing,
what the well-heeled gurus might call surrender
to what is, followed by lifelong management of chattel—
or call it stewardship if that sounds more noble.

Today I call it shopping for a sofa.
Remaking the world has devolved
into buying a sturdy frame with cushions
on which to park my crepey ass.
And the colors: the infinite wisdom of the marketplace
offers us fabric in shades ranging from earwax
to sputum to faded moss to fifty shades of dirt.

Where are the splashy prints of joyous dandelions,
the vistas of cumulus, the foliage of the Amazon,
the geometric atrocities of Pop Art gone Op,
the paisleys tinged with tincture of LSD,
the hulking, light-footed nudes once thought a scandal
in all the most refined salons? We trudge on
like pilgrims, only able to say No and No again
to earwax, sputum, and dirt.

Lucky So Far

Still alive and well, I can report
without detailing the history I’ll soon recite
for my general practitioner

or mentioning the little thrill I feel
when listening through the paper-thin walls
as he chats cheerily with the patient
who precedes me—an eighty-year-old granny
in good health, to whom he’s all but guaranteed

another healthy decade without dwelling
on the actuarials or expressing
the average male’s envy for the extra years
of the average female—seven, count ’em,

seven golden years of specialists,
fixed income, technological irrelevance,
failing memory, and the thinning ranks
of spouses, lovers, friends, even favorite
celebrities. Yes, says my doctor
through the wall, you should last

another ten years. With me, I expect,
he’ll shorten the timeline, tell me
to keep up the good work (not dying,
of course, and paying my bills
on time), and come back
in another six months. That much,
at least, seems a promise
he can endorse. We’ll even shake on it.

Five Things I Like About Myself

1. No felonies. There was that time
I’d rather not dwell on. Somewhere
in the bowels of the police logs
in Rome, New York, I’m listed
for possession of a misdemeanor gram
or two, just enough to disqualify me
for service on a grand jury.

2. No friends in the clink. A few
ex-associates with chances for incarceration,
but none has lived up to his potential.
And one old buddy who might be doing time
had he lived to fifty.

3. No record of military service.
I salute our troops, I add,
but my opportunities to get my head
separated from my body were limited
to a tour in Vietnam. Putting principle
above the personal, I declined.

4. No religious beliefs involving
snake-kissing, sacred underwear,
self-flagellation, or preaching
in a public place. In fact, agnostic
among believers, and vice versa.
Benignly indifferent to the question
of whether any deities root
for my home team.

5. Rarely fart in public—though exceptions
must be made, depending
on multiple circumstances, including
fatigue, inattention, and sudden desire
to express the ineffable.
On the whole, completely unreproachable,
despite minor lapses in etiquette.

Pork Chops

Up close, you gasp: your choleric neighbor,
after an extra thimbleful or two of whiskey,
shoots his cousin at close range in the chest
with a shotgun—where’s the sport in that?—
and lays him out with one blast in a puddle
of blood. All because they disagree
over whether the shooter is frying pork chops
or pork loin. Hear the sirens. Note the mayhem,
and the sudden ruination of two lives, two families.

But from two thousand miles away, reduced
to four column inches in the paper, sandwiched
between the scores of meaningless ball games
and today’s weather, you cannot help smiling
in disbelief, taking another sip of coffee,
and chuckling in astonishment, the way
perhaps God does in the face of the preachers
making a religion of stone-faced ignorance—
or when hearing reports of angels appearing
with Golden Tablets and get-out-of-jail-free cards
for all true believers. Then you say the words
to the morning sunshine stirring motes at your shoulder,
as if considering an inscrutable verdict: pork chops.

Will Walker has published two book-length collections of poems, Zeus At Twilight (2020) and Wednesday After Lunch (2009), both from Blue Light Press, and he has a chapbook too, Carrying Water (2006), from Pudding House Press.

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