The Birds of Menard’s – I, uncut

Finally I drive away

from that old house in the city

where drama was spooling out

across the little screen I held:

alcohol, of course, family wounds,

threats of suicide.

I pocket that silenced screen

like a take-out container of active angst –

and I go to Menard’s, where I hear

you can save big money.

I have a list and a promise of 11% back,

nothing but time and an unwieldy metal cart

into which I throw the chainsaw gloves for men,

medium – too big, but the smallest they have.

I have a chainsaw but not a man and

for now that’s preferred.

A bristled mat to wipe my muddy feet

at a different place up north,

some joint compound

to hold the naked seams together,

drink holders for the adirondack chairs

around the fire overlooking

a new view of the river.

A $9 snake to attach to my drill,

to clear out clogs and roots or other things

in the pipes that you can’t see from the surface.

I don’t buy the baby log splitter, though.

Mother’s Day is coming up.

Meanwhile, in my pocket, better friends than I

reach out

to my hurting friend from long ago,

reach out to each other,

provide suicide hotline numbers, inspirational quotes,

remind him how much they love him,

and finally,

someone calls the police.

I push my cart

now carrying the screen tent with magnetic doors

(for the last graduation party)

into the garden center to look at mulch, advertised at $1.97

per bag, a very good deal.

On the way, in the aisle filled to the brim

with the bags of grass seed,

dozens of little brown birds

hop from shelf to floor

and back again,

chirping their fine luck to each other.

I roll into the open

to consider the mulch.

Fat grackles or maybe phoebes make nests in

the eaves, splattering white shit

against the metal walls,

drinking freely from the puddles in the aisle

where a man nails

a pallet together, on his knees on the concrete,


to the god of making it to the end of the day,

the god of the elsewhere mind,

the god of getting through.

Under the twilight sky

birds and more birds

dart through any open spaces

between the watering cans, patio block, garden gnomes, hoses.

I’m looking to fly through open spaces, too,

I’m looking for shelter from the sky

but I don’t want walls,

I just need a little water,

a little seed.

I put a lilac bush in the cart,

I lost that, too, along with my tulips, my daffodils,

my singing frogs, my piece of the river –

I don’t yet know all I lost

or gained,

and I probably never will.

By the time I am home I see that my friend is on his way

to the hospital, escorted by the police.

I unpack my wares, having saved

and also spent big money, indeed –

while the birds of Menard’s keep on keepin’ on –

they pilfer grass seed they bathe in the puddles in the aisles they watch

as the automatic doors to the main store

open and close

open and close,

the promised land

so close

so close

to ruin.

3 thoughts on “The Birds of Menard’s – I, uncut

  1. One Day the doors will open
    For all the Elect to fly free.
    Already flown through — my dear bride;
    O when will the Day be for me?

    With fond memories of each of us, one cheek on the chair, I thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers.
    Shoulda gone to prom. 🙂


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