Four Prose Poems
by Michael Brockley
Aloha Shirt Tale
My dating coach advised me to sever all ties with my Hawaiian shirt collection. Said, "In those eyesores, you look like Homer Simpson after a donut-eating frenzy." I mentioned that Homer has his Marge, but she insisted. I cut my Paradise on a Hanger shirts into rags, then washed windows with bananas on a purple cloth and dusted bookshelves with volcanoes. I donated a dozen Tommy Bahamas and the Magnum P. I. to Goodwill. A week later, the lonely men who nurse refillable coffees at McDonald’s began arriving for breakfast in green sea turtles and maps of Hawaii. One mission house boarder salvaged a Detroit Tigers baseball cap to complement his Magnum P. I. The fast-food patrons called him Tom. He started greeting his new friends when they entered the restaurant. He began bussing their tables, refilling their water. Outside, he picked up the straws and sandwich wrappers discarded along his daily walks. The newspaper photographed him for a Clean-up-the-City article in his Aloha-from-Hawaii get-up. Voila, he's Blue Elvis. Soon every broken man in Muncie strutted about in XXXL shirts sporting pink flamingoes or WWII fighter planes. A quartet of men in hammerhead sharks and silver guitars sang doo-wop on the terrace in front of City Hall. A fellow who favored red dragon motifs won a seat on the city council. And my dating coach sent a Victoria’s Secret headhunter on a blind date with Magnum Tom. I started wearing earth-toned polos in July and turtlenecks in January. My last date pinned a hibiscus in her hair and called me Homer, while she fawned at a man in my Route 66 Go Barefoot as he escorted the network weather woman to a private booth.
This time I suspect my darling is cheating on me with Dilbert. The cubicle nerd with his necktie curved in defiance of gravity. Potent as primary colors. She enamors herself with these comic-strip Lotharios. Their sangfroid in the face of public debasement. Their deadpan expressions. For weeks, she met Dagwood at Starbucks in prelude to their trysts. Opus left cryptic messages on our answering machine. Plus offhand remarks about whipped cream massages. The handcuffs of love. Bill the Cat's interest in three-ways. I've traced the origins of her infidelity to one-night stands with characters from the Far Side. The hunter with the bull's eye on his back. The fat boy who pushed the pull door at the genius school. Her affairs never last more than a few months. She grew bored with Hagar's berserker tales and detested Beetle Bailey for his snoozathan habits. When my honey confessed her fling with Hobbes, she complained the beast had fleas. If I wanted to, I could Dick Tracy the hideaway she's bunkered in with Dilbert. Instead, I'll ring Blondie from my little black book. FedEx just delivered our Archie and Veronica costumes.
Siri Elopes with Aloha Shirt Man; They Spend Their Honeymoon on a Bonnie and Clyde eSpree
Aloha Shirt Man hot wires a Thunderbird while Siri reads the directions she Googled on Safari. One of the T-birds owned by the Governor of Kansas. A man with more vintage cars than he can count. After the engine rumble turns to purr, the duo heads toward the setting sun. Sunglasses down and road caps tipped across their brows. While Aloha Shirt steers, Siri solves zero divided by zero, tells X-rated jokes and accesses photographs of Bugsy Siegel and the Queen of the Gangster Molls. For lunch, Siri makes reservations at the Novel Restaurant in the Paris of the Plains. And at Topeka's Rowhouse, charging the five-star bills to the Governor's MasterCard. They play chicken on the back roads with farm boys driving demolition derby wannabes, running the hayseeds into the corn fields of early fall. At night, they hold up liquor stores by distracting the clerks with false flag alerts. Aloha Shirt outraces troopers on Interstate 35 as his better half scrambles shortwave codes, directing the Smokeys to snipe hunts in Dodge City. To rustlers in Wichita. Following a cigarette break in Coffeyville, Aloha Shirt shoplifts a pair of paintball pistols and Draxxus ammo to ambush the posse dogging their heels. With time to spare, the outlaws order surf-and-turf at Ross' Bar-B-Que. At a table for two, a worried Aloha slides his Most-Wanted poster across the table to his camera-shy bride. His pale blue eyes and stubbled jaw. The bounty at the bottom of the broadside. She tut tuts, outlines escape routes to Texas. Proposes that they make their honeymoon permanent. She vows to tell him why the chicken crossed the road.
Wile E. Coyote, Singles’ Coach
When Wile E. Coyote, Ph. D. hung out his shingle, I signed on for the lonely heart's deluxe plan. W. E.'s been a Hollywood legend since Fred Flintstone invented Yabba Dabba Do, and he knows the lore of amor. How Bogey and Bacall clicked. That Gable and Lombard formula. Dr. Coyote nixed my Hawaiian shirt wardrobe, replacing it with guayaberas and linen slacks. Since then, my barber styles my hair for that Monument Valley look. Rugged. And I follow the Wile E. tips. When I entertain, I lean away from my date in my seat. Speak in the bass cadence of good-hearted tricksters. Drink water while she sips wine. I frequent the meat counter at my local grocery while I practice saying tenderloin with a bedroom accent. Sometimes we double-date so W. E. can critique my zalamerías. He escorted a Spanish spitfire to a Viet-Mex fusion the night he introduced me to Lola Bunny. We sang “Sabor A Mi” to our dates for dessert. But W. E. insists I add swagger to my repertoire. Claims all ladies love outlaws. So I’ve ordered a kit called “A Dash of Cad” from ACME. Dr. Coyote swears if I press my ear against the train tracks, I'll hear the whistle from the locomotive of love.
Michael Brockley is a 67-year old school psychologist who works in rural northeast Indiana. He will be retiring at the end of the current school year. His most recent poems have appeared in Flying Island, Atticus Review, Third Wednesday, So It Goes, cahoodaloodaling, Rat's Ass Review and Zingara Poetry Picks. Poems are forthcoming in Gargoyle.