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Winter 2018/19

Fred Alsberg


The guy who made up my childhood
chain smoked as he typed
in his posh apartment
somewhere in Santa Monica.
In order to pay for a new Lexus
he placed me in a wind so wild
I could no longer hold on to myself.

Then he had everyone look at me
like I was just this outline
of a figure
chalked on cement.
With no help from him
I was somehow able to get up and run,
at times to even build a lead,
yet any surplus
is but postponement,

so I pulled down trash bins behind me,
cut through tight steamy kitchens
of Chinese restaurants
where I’d guess at the aromas.
I circled back,
swerved around corners
in revved-up car chases,
took running leaps between buildings.

I’ve hid myself in long scraggly wigs,
worn black face, white clown face, x-ray glasses.
I’ve slithered into raggedy jeans,
donned ball caps, top hats, tuxedos,
more clothes than they have
over in wardrobe at 20th Century Fox.
I’ve perfected a facial tic,
walked with a fake limp,
yet this “connoisseur of close calls,”
as he refers to himself,
never really lets me get away.

On days he works,
he’ll tilt back in his chair
to await his “reverie du jour…”
while maybe I’ll awaken in a house somewhere,
a bunch of cars pulling up on the street outside.
Men in plainclothes and uniforms
will have found me.
Over the megaphone
a friendly voice will promise
“No one has to get hurt…”
though their plan, obviously,
is to pry me out of my hideout
like I’m some big fat piece of lobster meat.

Of course I’ll decide it’s better I stay down,
stay away from the windows,
but then suddenly his typing will just stop…
Nothing more will likely get done.
He’ll put on a pair of sunglasses
for the drive across town
to Georgetti’s,
a place where five-piece silverware
holds the room’s chill.
Not ‘til he’s on his second drink
will he have the waitress make absolutely sure
the prime rib special
is still pink.

FRED ALSBERG has published poems in Blue Unicorn, Greensboro Review, Louisiana Review, Sundog: The Southeast Review, Rhino, Poetry Pacific, and Oklahoma Today.




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