Saturday 11 May 2024

Three Poems by Peter Mladinic


Cindy at the Redbird


The headline:

dead infant found in quilt

in Rhode Island slum.


A stranger

in a crowded student union

walked up to me and said

 “l hope you die.”


In the backseat of a Honda Accord

I slapped my nephew

for giving my year old son marijuana.


I’m waiting tables.

There’s no raisin toast.

We’ll just have to do without. 


In a natatorium

a man lifted a stroke victim

out of water

into a wheelchair. 

The stricken man breathed deeply.


Declawed Cats Shouldn’t Live Outdoors


Put on an optimistic face.

It’s the only way to meet oblivion.

Put on the blue T shirt

that says Optimism.

No one wants to sit in a cyber cafe

thinking about oblivion, or in the movies

before the coming attractions.

Optimism is the only way to meet oblivion.

Wax a Chevy pickup.

Buy a bag of Cheetos. The cashier

puts silver coins in your hand,

your hands briefly touch.

It’s so quick, almost subliminal.

Read her name tag,

get a piece of chalk and write her name

on a wall.  Either that, or go to Walmart

or into Our Lady of Fatima Church

and dip your fingers in holy water.


There are many things I cannot do

and even more that I can.

I can have a cat declawed.

I have the strength to peel an orange.


It’s no crime to think about oblivion.

Just don’t think about it too much,

don’t let it consume you.

If you do, you won’t be popular

though not everyone wants popularity.

Sometimes you might want to sink

into the woodwork, go unnoticed

in the peanut crunching crowd,

who are walking and talking, or maybe

an audience watching Twilight

or patients sitting in a clinic,

waiting to go in to see the doctor.


Some suggestions for optimistic acts:

Polish your shoes.

Go out on a date.

Ride a rollercoaster.  Scream.

It won’t be the scream of oblivion.


The Note Said


Spend part of each day doing something

you want to do.

Build a bridge, bat an eyelash,

wash spoons at a kitchen sink.

Bowl at the Fiesta Lanes.

Roller skate with a soil scientist

at the Lights Out Rink.


I spend 5 minutes in the Tunnel of Love

with Barbara. “Kiss me,

Someday we’ll be no more than dust.”


I spend 30 minutes shining my shoes,

15 at a mirror combing my hair.

I haven’t helped any earthquake victims

or built a wall around my feelings.

Intimacy is possible, with Barbara

or Bob, the soil scientist; or Glenda

from Sunday school,

who saw me browsing with 23 year old

Barbara in the lingerie department

at Wessex, our local discount store

which sells everything

from snow shovels to cold-cream.


I want to sit under a willow

on a riverbank,

munch potato chips, sip cola, and read

Tillich’s The Courage to Be.

I wouldn’t want to go there with anyone

but Barbara. 

I’d wish for clouds above the river.

I’d do what I want to do

as opposed to what I must do:


open one door after another,

see myself in one mirror after another,

tie and untie my shoelaces,

eat some beef stew I don’t really want.

I want a gin martini with 3 olives,

a porterhouse steak medium well,

a baked yam and mixed vegetables

on the side. I want to ice skate

outdoors, on a pond in the woods.

Also, I’d like to attend a cremation

but not of anyone I know.

I don’t want to attend a pet cremation.

I’d rather be at a loom, weaving

a potholder, thinking about the ocean;

or pick up a National Geographic

with an article on Jonas Salk.


I have to pay the gas bill,

brush my hair, floss my teeth.

I don’t want to get out of a car,

slip on ice and break my ankle.

I want to walk to the edge of a cliff

and almost fall off. 

Rising  to my feet, dusting off my slacks 

I hear Barbara,

“Jesus, that was close!”

Peter Mladinic's most recent book of poems, The Homesick Mortician, is available from BlazeVOX books. An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico, United States.










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