BY JOSEPH RATHGEBER.
When the delivery arrives on Sunday. An Amazon
employee in an unmarked Enterprise rent-a-van
scans a bar code on the cardboard box. When
my cellphone buzzes (or doesn’t) in the wee hours,
and I wake to read the text. When my urine
sample shows heavy metals. When a student
sends me the pink slime video on YouTube. When
my father says the union will die when he retires.
When I tell the shrink I’m okay
with cleaning ladies stealing jewels, carjackings,
and cop killers. When healing crystals and
New Age music went on-sale in the Brooklyn boutique.
When Everybody’s working for the weekend became
an anthem. When the week was invented.
When homeless Jozef sits in the library squirting
grape jelly from a squeeze bottle into his shuddering
mouth. When he’s wearing a FALL RISK bracelet.
When the kids are stimming and nobody
knows why. When parlor tricks pass for poetry.
When the newscaster went ahead and added
a d to Columbine and made it a verb. When
I put brand names and other irksome proper
nouns in the poem.
When the Terms and Conditions dialog
box is clicked, OK’d, and the NO TRESPASSING
sign made of cheap tin is obeyed. When the banana
went extinct. When the factory installed
suicide nets. When Black Friday arrived with a casualty
count. When KKK autocorrects as lol on
the iPhone. When the Word of the Year is post-truth,
is surreal. When you correct my grammar.
Joseph Rathgeber is an author and poet from New Jersey. His novel is Mixedbloods (Fomite, 2019). His story collection is The Abridged Autobiography of Yousef R. and Other Stories (ELJ Publications, 2014). His work of hybrid poetry is MJ (Another New Calligraphy, 2015). He is the recipient of a 2014 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship (Poetry) and a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship (Prose). You can find more of his work at www.josephrathgeber.tumblr.com.