Patric Pepper


The now of the mountain bike,
and the mountain bike itself, parked and chained,
like a metal stallion to a parking meter,
and the parking meter, too, as well as the chain,
and the female up-and-down of trendy city bottoms,
made so by clothes of the highest, lowest style,
coming into view and passing out of view,
and then the city dogs wagging, and sniffing each other,
and the lazy trees in their square plots of earth in the sidewalks,
and their lazy, drifting flying leaves above the evening's action,
and the cornrows of this baby's hair, and the hair itself,
and the cellophane-cell-phone-in-the-ear-elbow-pointed-strut,
and the cell phone itself stuck in the side of his head,
and the sweet, handsome men who kiss Hello!
and the serious women pecking their serious men Hello!
and the brothers who mysteriously grab the hands of the brothers Hello!
on Friday night at 6:55 P.M., and even Friday, too,
and the wonkish staffer shaking his leg up-and-down,
twirling his pasta at the outdoor table, savoring his white paper
all the way through, through his out-of-fashion thin-rimmed spectacles,
twirling and reading and finally sucking the long thin string to his gullet,
and the pasta too, what about the pasta, and the white paper
and the fork and the glasses and the table, what about the table—
now aren’t these people, these animals and plants,
in fact these objects, and these actions,
they that breeze like candy wrappers into my line of sight,
aren’t they only interested in love?


Old Rita, a Q.C. Inspector, pressed
on with a plate of barbecue and slaw—
until Matthew from Marketing, bare-chested,
ambled back from basketball. In awe,

Rita exclaimed, "Who is that beautiful man!"
as if Matt’s pecs and abs destroyed some plan
for finding fault, a plan without a now
of beauty nearly naked toe to brow.

Rita was union-tough, not one to trust.
"That’s Matt," I said, "Isn’t he a beaut?"
"Oh yeah!" she moaned, "That’s one lovely brute."
And this was not a vestige of young lust,

but acute-eyed sweet greed, that day, for more
to possess Rita, up from the factory floor.


Uncle Bud was "The Old Man in the Mountain"
on late-night radio, Hendersonville,
North Carolina. Bud just loved Hawaiian
slide guitar, its "fluffitude" on still
nights when no one out there cared or listened—
almost—just the timekeeper at High
Point Furniture, third shift, and the few men
with him, maybe some drivers swallowing pie
down at the truck stop, and Cheryl manning the E.R. all night.

When I was a new manager, and rattled,
I'd visit Uncle Bud. He'd ease me back
to the hi-fi room, where LP records,
hundreds amid the 1950's gimcrack,
waited like boxcars full of cumulus clouds.
Bud would start to spin his sweet, ignored
songs from paradise—those drifting islands,
somewhere—as he explained and grinned and cared,
and I'd become so soothed, unmoved, so pleasantly bored.

Always we'd end up rocking on the porch,
iced tea, investment talk, when suddenly
Bud would become solemn, his blue eyes catch
the light, his dated body lean to tell me,
every time, how Hawaiian music
was "like those clouds there." I was a young man,
and Uncle Bud was some old guy in a mountain,
and though he'd actually reach to touch my hand,
I was uncomfortable. Just didn't understand.

Patric Pepper lives in Washington D.C. He published a chapbook in 2000, Zoned Industrial, and a full length collection in 2005, Temporary Apprehensions, which was a 2004 co-winner of the Washington Writers' Publishing House Poetry Prize. His work has most recently appeared in Confrontation Magazine, The Distillery, and Minimus.



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