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Matthew London studies poetry at the West Virginia University MFA program where he also teaches English 101 as a graduate assistant. His writing appears or is forthcoming in Muse & Stone and past simple. He maintains a blog with Twilight Zone allusions and poetry chatter at terminalvocabulary[dot]blogspot[dot]com.
Everyone in the world was issued “Get out of jail free” cards. Everybody got one card. Some religious groups in the Appalachians donated their cards to charities. Something like half the prison population of all the countries in the world was released. All small business owners purchased 12-gage shotguns and posted signs reading Still have my Get Out of Jail Free card. Municipal governments collapsed. No money was posted for speeding tickets. No one sped reasonably anymore. Penalties for all crimes were ratified with the resulting verdict being life in prison. Nobody realized this. Everyone thought things would go back to normal after all the cards were gone. Forgeries were made. The sentence for forging cards was immediate execution. The world became small and intimate. Everyone eventually learned how to be happy.
People will buy up all the remaining supplies of typewriters. The kind Angela Lansbury used during the opening credits of Murder, She Wrote. But people won’t remember Angela Lansbury. In fact, it probably wasn’t her typing anyway. Those old typewriters will have been stockpiled in a climate controlled warehouse in south east Idaho, the whole town being employed there. They will say to each other merde and leave the warehouse for the last time. The town will be cut off at the knees as everyone loses their jobs. But, do not worry, they will go on to live long, full lives on a form of compounded, bi –weekly unemployment from the warehouse union’s pension. Previously, no one will know it existed. Once the typewriters arrived to their destinations (all 947), the people will begin writing prophecies in short, 300 word segments. Everyone will keep them for themselves. There is a great chance no one will ever read what they foresaw.
You have a mouth full of clip art,
and I get lost between the corporate motivational material
somewhere back in the molar area, or rather
where the molars used to be
before the discount cartoons
set up their kind of shantytown.
Before, when you asked me if getting a tattoo
design from a clip art file was a good idea,
I told you
while you’re at it
why don’t you get my name in your ear using word art?
The thing is, you spelled it wrong.
I want my name written on your heart
but not like that;
freehand would be best,
gliding a pencil over the pericardium, pushing
just a little,
just enough to feel the arteries squish and slosh.
My blown away face
holds hands and takes walks in city parks
with me streaming red green purple kites.
We buy cotton candy at quiet carnivals
and sometimes fish
& dangle our feet off the pier.
But when the weather isn’t fair,
we read books in the window sill.
It prefers Melville on melancholy days.
And I can never turn down a good Dickens.
Each spring break we travel to Cancun
and take our tops off
and get schlackered and posted on Facebook
and it isn’t as scandalous in the morning
as it was that night.
We eat green donuts on St. Paddy’s Day.
We call Saint Patrick’s Day
St. Paddy’s Day and tell strangers
we are Irish.
And someone asks “are you two related?”
The first clock
A great number of people were gathered at the Royal Swiss National Theatre one evening. An exciting announcement was about to be passed down to all the citizens of the country. Even some diplomats from neighboring countries – even countries across large bodies of water – would be in attendance. A great, mustached man known as Dr. Clement took the stage, flourishing his way through the heavy, scarlet curtain. This is for all of us and he flung open his dress shirt, popping the buttons along the seam into the crowd, his tie still narrowly swinging from around his Adam’s apple. Someone in the front row started gagging. Quick, the man in the front row a woman shouted and tossed back her bonnet. She made a dash for the man. Dr. Clement studied his audience. Everyone forgot about him and came to the aid of the man in the front row. Look someone said he can tell time indoors. A handful of patrons glanced up then went back to attending to the man. Dr. Clement wailed and removed the pendulum from his shirt collar. He took out his embroidered handkerchief and began wiping off the numbers around his chest and stomach. That is not acceptable in this place said a woman who was no longer of importance to the health of the man. And you should be ashamed of yourself. She took her pointer fingers and, with a sour scowl, jabbed them up at Dr. Clement. Dr. Clement could not find his way back through the curtains. He still lives on that stage to this day.