Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Vagaries Of Hunger

Ian cried tears on to the hard shell of a dead crab and knew in his heart he was finally a man*
I'm telling ya,
used to be I would have had a great big shiny new WTF? ready, at a time like this.
I would have said,
"A crab, Larry?" (Larry's been calling himself "Ian" lately. Hey, don't ask me.)
A honking dead, stinky, stupid-ass crab? Really?"

But now,
I know better. 
I know to keep my yap shut,
like when somebody invites you to their church and you can't weasel out of it;
it makes about as much sense as a drunk-butt family-values congressman in the back of a squad car,
but you have to be respectful.
You have to act like it's the unveiling of a masterpiece, for the love of mike.

Or Larry.
Cos it's my man Larry having the epiphany right here on East Warehouse Street,
bawling like the football game ain't on tv.
I have some tricks.
I have learned to get creative with it, during awkward moments
when I'd rather be in Arkansas hunting runaway My Little Ponys
than sitting on the curb like a lost pigeon,
watching Larry turn on the waterworks over a dead crustacean.

I plan the week's menus.
Lean Cuisine, reduced fat Oreos, 
big ginormous tubs of mac and cheese or caramel swirl, for when I feel weird.
I think about Gina,
who I loved like monkeys love bananas,
and who, if I didn't talk to her for more than 24 hours, I went all gonky.
I think,
if she were here, with weepy Larry,
who really isn't a bad guy at all, God love him.

"Larry," I say softly,
thinking of the time I tried to get that barn cat to trust me,
"Honey...are you ready to go home, now?"
Larry looks off into the middle distance, nobly, like an explorer.
Oh, boy.
This isn't going to blow over any time soon.
I decide to work on his weakness, as women have done for centuries:
"Are you hungry, Lar? How about a double bacon cheeseburger from Burger Barn?"

We set off, leaving Crabby to his fate.

We're almost there, 
to that palace of deep-fried happiness,
where I will get a large order of french fries and a strawberry shake,
and Larry will have his burger and regain his equilibrium,
and his not not-endearing Larryness.

It could have happened,
smooth as a dolphin's back,
but no.
Just half a block from our blissful calorie explosion,
who do I see coming our way, but Gina.
Gina, who I loved more than babies love their blankies,
more than pyros love a match,
more than anything, really, in all this world,
and she just walks right by without a word.

Then I am crying, just like that,
and I can't stop.
Larry, who never knew Gina or what she meant to me,
looks over and, saints bless him,
knows better than to say anything.
He just takes my hand and squeezes it like a stress ball,
and I love him for it, speechlessly, through my tears.

*This is for Out Of Standard, with Isadora, who asked us Toads to use one of an array of first lines for our poem today. The first line of this is the one I chose. I plead guilty to having written the rest.


Anonymous said...

Much enjoyed. You have a great wonderfully flowing story here. I love the transition of Ian to Larry- it really is wonderful. k.

Anonymous said...

PS- you capture (very subtly) the idea that nothing makes us human (a grown man/woman) more than helping another. Even if just out of crab loss or, more importantly, Gina neglect.

Daryl said...

'..squeezes it like a stress ball' oh that Ian/Larry

Isadora Gruye said...

oh where to start here: I love that you took the sentence about the crying and the crab and used it as a springboard into another character--your narrator.

I like the madcappedness--a hallmark of any Fireblossom piece--but here you leaping is exceptionally welll plotted, from the crab to the menu planning, (tubs of mac and cheese actually sound pretty good about now), to Gina, to my little pony hunting, all with the strong voice of the narrator. You handled each transition masterfully.

I love this poem more than babies love their blankets....So well done, viva la

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is like a ride on a roller coaster with no safety bar, just when you think you've swooped around the last corner another hill climb presents.
I laughed out loud when I got to this line:
thinking of the time I tried to get that barn cat to trust me...
I so admire the narrator's patience with Larry's epiphany, and the sweet sense of hopeless solidarity at the end.

Susan said...

This is my new favorte of yours. I love every unique image, every melodramatic turn in the narrative!

Anonymous said...

I thought the ending was really sweet. I felt the last stanza to be quite moving. Even though the main character comes across as kind of a dope, you reveal his redeeming qualities at the end. Throughout her life, the speaker has been brokenhearted by all the intense loves that Gina represents. But even if Larry isn't exactly what she wanted, and even if he is never truly able to understand her, he is sensitive enough to notice that she's hurting and he offers his hand and support no matter what she is going through. She does the same for him. That is a "love" that can endure, even if it's not based on the kind of passion she felt for Gina and even if it seems sort of mediocre in comparison.

You have such a gift for conveying depth of person and relationship but making it seem like it's just a quirky character sketch. There are worlds of emotion embedded/hidden in your fun and playful poems.

I see them all.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I love the way your title introduces one kind of hunger, and then you so subtly switch over to another kind. The last line is my favorite.

Kay L. Davies said...

Oh, wow, trust you, dear Fireblossom, to come up with something like this. I love it.
Laughed, though, at "to that palace of deep-fried happiness, where I will get a large order of french fries" because yesterday I annoyed the bejeepers out of my husband by having a craving for french fries. He bought them for me, then went to put things in the car, and came back. He was just reaching for some fries when he realized I'd put vinegar on them. I thought he'd cry.
We are still planning to go away together next week, but I'm going to be careful not to stand near him at the railing on our transatlantic cruise.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Sigh. I so love your stories. Especially appreciated him looking "off into the middle distance, nobly, like an explorer. Oh, boy." Brilliant.

Sara said...

You're on a roll with these poems. They make me laugh:~)

I loved the lines "Gina, who I loved more than..." .

After trying several times, I gave up and mentally read this line, "and his not not-endearing Larryness:~) LOL that's another tongue twister.

The ending was also great: "He just takes my hand and squeezes it like a stress ball." That a good analogy.

ellen abbott said...

Ah, it always comes back to bite us in the butt.

I knew a guy named Larry once, a heroin addict who thought he could play guitar and apparently only knew one song...Stairway To Heaven. His heroin addict girlfriend was always asking him to play it. Larrrrry, play Stairway To Heaven while they both nodded out. They invited us over for dinner once. She was so stoned that when she opened the oven she started nodding out. I was tempted to see if she would lay h er head on the hot oven door while she was supposed to be checking the roast. I decided that it would be bad karma for me to let her do it so I had to keep jerking her back to reality. That was the last time we saw them but anytime I meet or hear of someone named Larry, that's what pops into my head.

Hannah said...

"who I loved more than babies love their blankies,
more than pyros love a match,
more than anything, really, in all this world,"

LOVE that!

This in its entirety is so entertaining...I love that Ian calls himself Larry and that line "smooth as a dolphins back..." many fun fresh lines, Shay!! Great write and so coll to see where that one sentence led you!! :)

Peggy said...

I love how you presented to voice and persona of the character who is the speaker in this poem. And the poem definitely tells a story--or gives me the idea there is more of a story than revealed so I want to know more.

Susie Clevenger said...

It goes from tears over crabs to tears at being slighted. Life is like that. Another's grief is not ours and ours is not theirs yet we wipe one another's tears. I love it Shae!

Anonymous said...

if my name was Larry, i think i'd call myself Ian, too.... or Robbie or Melissa or something fuckin' better than "Larry" ~ though it could be worse. he could be "Dick."

Lynn said...

I love the story, FB.

hedgewitch said...

Again a set of distinct and autonomous characters in a seamless world of their own, that yet mirrors all the deeper, important parts of the heart. Fine writing, Shay.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

I just love the madness of this wonderful story - excellent write.

Anna :o]

Ella said...

Larry's on a coaster! I love your world ;D

Anonymous said...

OH, loved this! To take that obscure first line and turn it into an afternoon-on-Ventura-Blvd. kind of beat story, eventually hinting at other times, other ways of living life. The finale, sweet and satisfying. But the church part was the best... Perp walkin' the goody two shoes, yeah, sock it to 'em! Love, Amy

Kim Nelson said...

Good Golly Girl! You know who to weave a tale out of nothing but dead crabs and cold fries. And of course Gina and true love and tears...

Helen said...

What a story! We all need a little Larry in our lives ....

Mama Zen said...

This is really cool, Shay. Every line is more unexpected than the one before.

Marian said...

hah, fun! though the line about being invited to church and not being able to weasel out of it made me shiver. and also, all the My Little Ponys are over here, nobody has to search for them. :)