David McGimpsey, Sitcom (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2007): 16-20.
1What is my news? Well, since graduating,
2I’ve raked it in and I’ve tossed it off,
4That is, aside from noticing the moon
5shimmering on saw-bladed ferns in redwood
6groves, I have learned two valuable lessons:
7always floss, and nobody wants to see
8your collection of shot glasses. Mercy.
11‘That is so you!’ I’m sure we’ll hear that: ‘You
12were locked up nine months for passing bad cheques?
13That is so you!’ Of course, my high school band
14never made the big time, never backed up
17doomed us and I regret insisting on it,
18regret writing it in Magic Marker
19on the ass of my best acid-wash jeans.
21and just let the cocktails do the talking,
22left the academy under green clouds
23of vodka slosh and ended up working
24on the busy side of the phone: ‘But, sir,
25your agreement says you should pay us now.’
26Today, I supervise a fleet of young
28Admiral, that is just so you. Romance
29came around for me more frequently
31as annoying. There was Becky Plover
32(do you know if she’ll be reunioning?)
33who wrote poetry about fast horses
34and father figures in undershirts.
35It was a miracle she was with me,
36always pressing for what she called ‘the truth,’
37as long as the truth never again involved
38a story that ends ‘whacking off with Hazmat
40about the hot hot sexual awakenings
41of Toronto: ‘She kissed his smooth tanned chest
42and felt free.’ O my asthmatic princess,
43wringing your hands, your knock-off purse full
44of neatly printed scheduled coffee dates.
45Then there was salty Kathleen, who thrived
46on confrontation, who grew with each
47‘piss off!,’ who sprawled on rank sofas
48and drank Pepsi while sitting in the tub.
49Thank God she won’t be there! I can see her
50coming through the gym doors like a tank
51through the palace gates in Saigon, flying
53and milk, screaming, ‘Where is that stupid fag?’
54And, finally, Pamela who I used
55to love but who now says she has to try
56to work things out with her husband. I asked
57and she just laughed, saying, ‘I really love
58reunions, except for the part about
59murder being a crime.’ That is so her.
60‘It’s been so long,’ they’ll say before turning
61to say, ‘It feels like only yesterday.’
62My father thought the best way to fight
63heart disease was to simply ignore it.
64my sister yelling about his yellow pills.
65I’m not so sure his approach wasn’t wise;
66my mother sits patiently by herself,
67makes her own tea, her own little cheese plate,
68and still laughs when a TV ad begins
69‘Do you have diarrhea?’ Through the years,
70while the economy boomed and bulldozed,
71while computers made life much easier
73while doctors fought AIDS and cancer of the neck;
74while populations across the globe soared
75and citizen geeks fought to save marshland
76and limit greenhouse gasses for the sake
77of the dooming tear in the ozone, while
78geneticists promised the dawn of the clone
79and the Hubble Telescope took pictures
80of galaxies that folded neatly into
81other galaxies, I took time to perfect
82the art of the bummed smoke, the hindered dream,
83the delayed comeback zinger, the late lunch,
84the jealous funk, the revenge fuck, hollow
85vows, saggy jowls, long happy hours,
86debit cards, loose-fitting pants, nighttime soaps
87(don’t bring up the past), the hyena’s laugh,
88blaming it all on nice people like you.
89That was me in your medicine cabinet.
90That was me hanging up just as you picked
91up the phone. What’s the theme of the reunion?
92‘Always and Forever: This is Us!’ or
93‘May God save us from more remakes of
95everybody’s all dressed nice, showing off
96how our spouse taught us not to say ‘nothink.’
97Spruced from long apprenticeships in the malls
98and cubicles since we left sweet Hoodlum High,
99we know how to deny the neighbourhood.
100Good guys all, we’ll hear, all shy and quiet,
101nerds and geeks who forgive the only school
102in the state to be closed due to ‘benzene
103poisoning.’ We’ll transform poor to cute-poor -
105Will there be awards? I’d like to see that.
106Can I put my name up for Most Improved
107Sense of Persecution? Naturally,
108the award for Most Exactly Where We
109All Thought They’d Be has to go to Charlie
110G., who smashed his Chevette into a pole.
111Would I see that guy--you know, the guy I once
112punched in the stomach for five delinquent
113dollars--get up, fight the piercing feedback
114of the microphone, accept his lame prize
115as Nicest Guy, and weep for ‘the best times
116of our lives’? I’m sure Nicey’s all set up:
118while the whore’s tax attorneys look on.
119I will be at the reunion. I will dance
121of old teachers ‘til they pry me off the bar.
122But there will come a time when it gets dark.
123The lights against the wall will hypnotize.
125I will see couples dancing and realize,
126for me, partying’s no different than waiting
127for a late flight out of Newark: despite
128the sequined dress of yearned-for Sasha-May,
129despite the welcoming handshakes, I opt
130for the vampire who lives behind the wall;
131he has leather chairs and a rifle range,
132a pet tiger he likes to call Earl,
133a desk into which to carve the words It’s over.
134Alone, I’ll smell the factories again
135and retrace the steps to the shops of my youth,
136where they sold candy made out of petroleum
137and just one brand of soft, gleaming white bread.
138I’ll see shiny elbows on my sport coat
139and, just like that, all attendees will seem
140like fat rich kids on ponies. They never ask
141if the pony’s back is sore, they only
142say, ’I wanna lollipop!’ Wouldn’t it
143be great if the nicest girl, and I mean
144the most legendary Jesus-Loves-Me queen,
145showed up all divorced and brandy-weary?
146And if we excused ourselves to some long-lost
147stoner’s enclosure made for bra-strap
148fiddling, and we’d satirize everything,
149including, Sasha-May, including my
150own dreams of a one-off and, looking in
151her green eyes I’d say, “we better get back,’
153‘I thought that was more of an encore,’
154I’d say, tucking my shirt into my belt,
155and sensing our shared booby-prize despair,
156she’d take my hand and gently remind:
157‘Koo-Koo, the nice thing about crawling
158into the woodwork is staying there.’
3] green peach: yet-unripened.
pitch: sports field, as for rugby. Back to Line
pitch: sports field, as for rugby. Back to Line
9] Henry Blake: Lieutenant Colonel Henry Braymore Blake, M.D., commanding officer of the MASH sitcom, reported killed when his plane back to the United States crashed. Back to Line
10] Kinch ... Le beau: characters in the sitcom Hogan's Heroes (1965-71) about a German prisoner of war camp in World War II: Kinchloe, an African American, and LeBeau, a Free French Air Force Corporal. Back to Line
15] Thin Lizzy: Irish hard rock band. Their worldwide hit, "The Boys Are Back in Town," came out in 1976. Back to Line
16] Willie Nelson (1933-) is an American country music singer-songwriter. Back to Line
20] Buford: in Georgia, but without a business college of this name. Back to Line
27] bafflegab: confusing jargon. Back to Line
30] Ernest movies: ten films centered on Ernest P. Worrell, a comical character played by Jom Varney, whose irritating signature was a closing ""KnowhutImean?" Back to Line
39] Hazmat / mitts: hazardous materials gloves. Back to Line
52] Jägermeister: sweet German herbal liquor. Back to Line
72] Jar Jar: annoying comic-relief alien in the second Star Wars trilogy. Back to Line
94] Planet of the Apes: film (based on Pierre Boulle's novel, 1968), remade in 2001 and 2011, and inspiring four sequels before 1973. Back to Line
104] Rydell High: the musical Grease (1971) was set in fictional Rydell High School. Back to Line
117] doing lines: sniffing lines of cocaine. Back to Line
120] T’Pau: British musical group from the late-1980s named after a Vulcan in "Star Trek." Back to Line
124] Pernod: maker of anise-flavoured liqueurs. Back to Line
152] "Footloose": chart-leading song by Kenny Loggins (1984). Back to Line
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung