Weekends at Woolworth’s
For $18.49 a week
I got to spend my Weekends at Woolworth’s:
Sundays not included because of the
Blue laws in and around Philadelphia.
Friday nights and all day on Saturday
To avoid a conflict with a school night
And ruin my grades, or so the folks said.
Actually I would have had the choices
Anyway of Penn State, Temple, or Nam.
Mr. Fox, the cool assistant manager,
Told us about his tour of duty there
As we waited for customers to come
And check out so they could beat the traffic.
Heading both ways along Germantown Pike.
Miss Fogg, her frosted blond wig attempting
To disguise her five decades on this earth
Handed out our pay envelopes with cash
And told us where we were supposed to work.
Fridays on the upper level, two men
Regularly bought lots of plastic flowers.
Saturdays spent on the lower level
Talking with Linda from the Ancilla
Domini Academy wondering
If Vatican II would help me date her
And learning men’s wear from suave Mr. Knox.
Friends would stop by sometimes or I would see
Them during my hour-long meal break as
I passed on the 10% lunch counter discount
To head to Sal’s Steaks and Wee Three Records
Who had much cooler albums anyway.
A few weeks after the Mall fire
Water damage closed the lower level
And the upper level became crowded,
A real shambles for the next couple months.
Fully expecting they would lay me off,
On Saturday night a petulant man
Fired me for the inability to remove
Slushy black scuff marks without use of solvent
From the speckled linoleum floor.
Trudging to my Dad’s station wagon as
The first one in the family to be fired,
In adolescent anger I told him.
Dad suggested that the manager
could go to hell; much relieved, I concurred.
Thus ended my last weekend at Woolworth’s.
Observation Point 13, Ft. Drum, New York
Tree stretching toward Canada
Wispy clouds hover in summer sky
Vacationer’s paradise unfolding
Except for the large orange circles
On a small, man-made hill
Surrounded by the rusted wrecks
Or yesterday’s automobiles.
Radio transmissions crackle
Over in the Fire Direction Center
As bratwurst and kielbasa sizzle
Over on several hibachis.
Fire Mission! All human activity stops
As the hundred-pound rounds
Slam into the circles from a distance
Of classified information.
The plates have already been passed,
And as an FM rock station plays “Tommy”
By The Who, the howitzers blast away
At a few more wrecks.
Every shot has been in the box
And everyone his happy.
Like if good on OP 13 as
Lunch continues and I regret
Having taken so long to enlist.
Had I known the Army could be
This good, I would have joined earlier!
People along the way
Going half-way across the country
Thousands of faces flash by
In rest areas, attractions, streets, businesses.
Some of them stand out
For one inexplicable reason or another.
Shuffling from their SUV,
A family heads to the Lone Star
Leaning at the Sabine River Rest Area
Standing in front of thick gray clouds
So they can take each other’s picture.
Far from Hessen, in the Hill Country
German cuisine is served in a frontier house.
For a moment her native language
Floats in the air amid the Texan drawls
As it used to not so long ago.
Praying silently in the cathedral
With arms stretched along the railing
Her daughter converses as well
Discretely, impatiently speaking
Into her I phone.
Couple of our approximate age
Unhappy at everything
She fusses at restaurant hostess
Then unleashes a torrent of spite
At his day-long negativity.
Later I intentionally walk by them
As he slowly eats while she
Sits clutching her elbows
Not even caring to look at him.
From several feet away from the fountain
Tawny-tressed girl and mother standing.
Daughter appears to want a drink but refuses an offer
As her mother expresses her thanks anyway.
Juliet Cook and j/j hastain
Like a bee moth with bloody honeycomb lips.
Whose mouth will you sting next?
Whose mouth will become your own
next sticky chrysalis space?
Behemoth please don’t
lose yourself while you are busy
trying to find yourself.
Don’t treat your stingers
like they’re tectonic plates.
You’re not the whole surface of the earth.
You hover buzz above the mainstream,
but why try to create a new ovicide?
Are you attempting to kill
your own pattern again?
When will you help yourself
understand not every protrusion turns
into a broken down strand of tainted
confidence in the hyoid coincidence?
Are you too busy chiding biology to notice
your disembodiment tear apart like
flayed digits? You used to be pretty
as a snap dragon until you snapped,
and repeatedly ripped yourself
into too many different pieces.
I’m an incomparable mess with exaggerated streaks.
How do I narrow this down? During weeks
of drought–during weeks
of downpour–weeks upon weeks of
inauguration of weakness. Why is my flesh
made like this? Is it made for this? I didn’t
sign up but it might be time
to excavate and rearrange the flock.
Here’s my latest signature. I am glowing the more and more
sheep I let into this
Sheep aren’t only a bridge, aren’t only
what to count in order
to get somewhere. When the moon is just right,
these sheep trigger out ectoplasm,
lots of different colors and
shapes, too many to count
unless we create a whole
different sort of order
reordering the borders while
wise men dream of dust bunnies
and other happenstance. Revamp
the squiggle dusters into ecstatic
elation, frenetic deviation
from the fur
or devotional pledges ensuring
Fury dangling on the edge,
purring at you to count
Why Lancelot? She asked
her other self
the one in the oculus
Why not a lion-sized lark
a lionized loincloth
chewing this month’s blood
in order to create sparkles
of bewitching lioness drips
as the creature learns to fly
When the full moon
is acting full out
in attempt at fulfilling
will you drink it
or will you pull out
the flying machete
and try to hit that moon
down? Because why try?
Why attempt flight?
It’s like the spasm of a clock
made out of milkweed
that might suddenly turn cuckoo
and then drip down thighs
and crawl out the door
again. Screech as the glass
breaks. Great gallbladder
gonads in a rococo arrangement
with lip gloss on top
Disinfectant or Douche?
How do we engrave an orifice?
Burn a bible, a bundle,
an American flag.
Coagulate all the swag
down our throats and then
gag ourselves and spit it
down the drain and
grab the Lysol.
You know what we used to advertise
that Lysol for?
Cleaning off the stick of the plunger
Prepare for ocular penetration
and spray paint a ventricle
Blowtorch the entire panel,
turn the whole party scene
into burning whoopee cushions.
Quiet now: just experience that sound.
Entire Group Slides to One Soft Side
Turbulent taffeta explodes into
Turns the wheel
Until it sticks
Into the snow
Leaving you to wonder
Will it sink
Will it melt
Will it grow
More wet confetti
More topaz along the lone river
Where tides push and pull
Where whitewater vibes
Where the wet suit strives
To pop out eggs
The shape of staves
Because large sacs
And vertical hives
Are buzzing in between
Like the spots within
A large piece of
Moon shaped pie
Hole craters reconstructed
With icing jags
Jugs full of lag time
and the heavy breasts
that memory-less men
now drag around
the floor like protruding,
misshapen ball gags
Tall and unforeseen
the whole room groaning
like a mutant pinball machine
Entire group slides to one soft side
a way to be free of plagiarizing a wave
After the slow dance, some of them turn into ghosts,
some into cheerleaders, some into mixed up bags
of more taffeta. Just try to dive bomb that.
The healing potion explodes
We were seeking
in other words the
full of worms
the groom of
a returning blood flow
brimming with another line up
marooned brain waves
Replicate life force
The new cave?
Is the place in which you are engaged
full to you? Or are you another never
ending cascade? Bright red, dark red.
One side a positive
One side a negative
Never ending hemorrhaging hemisphere. Never
Juliet Cook: Oftentimes instead of attempting to express my shifting, mixed up viewpoints with straightforward words, I do so with poetry and visual art (like painting/collage art hybrids) and then let others interpret it how they will. I am often very uncertain about how others interpret my body and mind; likewise, I am often uncertain about how others interpret my poetry/art.
Bird fetuses, other carcasses, abandoned flesh, used flesh, abused flesh, relationship issues, body based issues, and fear of death often infiltrate my mind in one way or another – and much of my poetry and art helps me express those infiltrations rather than repress them. I love creative expression, but sometimes post expression, I feel like my content might be overly repetitive about myself, mind/body, life/death and what is the point of it all.
j/j hastain: Word-based: Words are more than language to me. They are little bolts, jolts of light, symbols and systems capable of enabling. Words are ways to make little worlds in which resounding can occur. Words are matter by which to graft new forms of environment and safe space. I depend on words in so many ways. They are access to so much vibrating excess. They are how an intuition becomes a speaking image, a realm.
Body-based: I have synesthesia. Often sound and sight (image) exchange. There are other modalities too: color and vibration. How to articulate experience then? When I read and swallow in words, sentences, I often feel a buzzing just outside of the frame of my physical body, sort of like standing by a loud speaker as intense music blasts at a dance club.
Juliet Cook is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver and purple explosions. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications, most recently including Arsenic Lobster, Menacing Hedge, Mojave River Review and Tarpaulin Sky Press. You can find out more at http://www.JulietCook.weebly.com.
j/j hastain is a collaborator, writer and maker of things. j/j performs ceremonial gore. Chasing and courting the animate and potentially enlivening decay that exists between seer and singer, j/j, simply, hopes to make the god/dess of stone moan and nod deeply through the waxing and waning seasons of the moon.