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Jim Cummins - Mid West Correspondent

"Feeling a Snack Coming On" [by Jim Cummins]

Janet Leigh in Psycho
Feeling a Snack Coming On

Maybe the best thing to compare it to
Would be the old cowboy-and-Indian movies
We used to endure on Friday night TV
Or Saturday matinees, before Psycho hit.
Indians whooping and chasing stagecoaches;
A strong-but-vulnerable woman holding a rifle,
Her face streaked with dirt, a white sleeve torn;
Or a lone half-naked buck sneaking up
Behind a blue-clad soldier to slit his throat—
Until the soldier proves the better athlete,
Wrestling the knife away and giving the Injun
What-for, before bayonetting the poor bastard
And rolling his painted body into the canyon.
A 16-ounce Pepsi could last a double feature.

So you’re riding through a desert, a third-rate
Monument Valley—this is no A-lister—
And the silence is starting to surround you.
Forty miles to the next pony-express station,
Where there’s water and human interaction
(Though you’re very appreciative of your horse!);
And the vast emptiness of endless desert
Is beginning to seem a metaphor for your life.
That’s the first sign your blood sugar levels
Are starting to fall.  Maybe it was the coffee
After dinner—never a good idea, that, but
You wanted to be alert crossing this terrain;
Now you’re starting to feel a little hollowed out.
That’s when the first cookie shows up.

It stands on a ridge, a sentinel silhouetted
Against sun.  You try to make out its markings.
Chocolate chip?  Member of the Oatmeals?
There’s icing, but what does the icing mean?
Then, to the left, two or three more cookies
Appear, their frosting glinting in the sun.
This is getting serious.  It’s as if they can see
The gnawing in the pit of your stomach.
Suddenly, up ahead, many cookies, a whole tribe
Of cookies, as if they’ve been waiting in ambush:
Butterscotch cookies, pecan candies, cookies
With chocolate swirls across their faces, jellies.
You eat until your throat is dry as the desert,
Hoping you’ll soon hear the bugles of milk.

4/12 /20

from the archives; first published April 14, 2020.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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