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This poem is from the Spring 2015 issue of the Antioch Review.

 

HAPPY DAY
by Donald Platt

                 My mother is dying.
Dana and I are making out, rutting like teenagers in heat
		in the front seat

of our hybrid SUV while simultaneously watching the Fourth of July
		fireworks through
the moonroof.  It’s ‘little’ Nashville, Indiana.  Capitol

		of ticky-tack.
More kitsch per square inch than any place I’ve ever been.
		The fireworks burst

like Fabergé eggs over ETHEREAL—Day Spa & Salon
		Peace *
Rejuvenation * Relaxation.  Over Schwab’s Old-Fashioned

		‘Olde Thyme’ Fudge.
Over Madeline’s Gifts for Home & Happiness.  Over Chateau
		Joe Winery,

over Music & Mayhem, Guitars & Knives.  Over Pathway Christian Books,
		the House of Jerky—
Beef    Venison    Kangaroo    Cheese Curds    Buffalo    Trout    Boar

		Pickles.
My mother is dying.  It’s the birth of our nation, my hand on Dana’s
		thigh, her hand on my . . .

red, white, and blue orgasm of fireworks over Rawhide Ranch
		offering year-round
trail riding, hayrides, and zip lines, over lemon shake-ups,

		over Welcome Everyone
Pork BBQ Meal Deals, over the poster of Uncle Sam pointing his finger
		at me and saying

I WANT YOU ON A HARLEY.  Irony is almost everything.
		Rilke was dead wrong
when he said, “Search into the depths of Things: there irony

		never descends . . .”
My mother is dying.  Dana and I are still breathing.  Everyone is dying
		for the CARMEL CORN

COTTAGE with its DOUBLE DIPPED CARMEL CORN
		Extra Sweet
& Crunchy * Chicago Style * Carmel Corn Lite *

		Carmel Delites.
At St. John the Barefoot Books and Icons, Christ the Savior
		dies every day

on his gilt cross for each of us, for Carol’s Crafts, Gifts, & Collectibles,
		for Miss Moonpennies,
Apparel & Accessories, for Moonshine Leather Co., for a man-sized

		plastic ‘Gelato
ice cream’ cone, kaleidoscopes, tote bags, saltwater taffy,
		for the Melchior

Marionettes celebrating in Nashville their 30th anniversary,
		for Johanna Lee
BATHOLOGY with its claw-foot, enamel bathtub

		filled with dirt
and planted with pansies and philodendrons out front.  Christ dies daily
		for all the little

signs with their too cute sayings—KING OF THE GRILL; WE INTERRUPT
		THIS MARRIAGE
FOR HUNTING SEASON; GETTING A DOG IS YOUR ONLY CHANCE

		TO CHOOSE A RELATIVE;
THE TROUBLE WITH CHILDREN IS THAT THEY ARE NOT RETURNABLE;
		EITHER YOU LOVE

BACON OR YOU’RE WRONG.  The Surf Shack sells psychedelic longboards
		800 miles 
from the ocean.  “Chimes Are 20% Off!  That’s just crazy talk!”

		There’s a gravestone
carver advertising “six dollars a letter, three dollars a number,
		ten dollars

for stone.”  I don’t want my mother buried under Brown County
		brown stone.
Next to a ONE WAY sign pointing down an alley, some wag has hung

		on a brick wall
a sign that is a fist with extended index finger and underneath
		BREWERY THIS WAY.

Miller’s Homemade Ice Cream sells Tin Roof Sundaes,
		Dusty Road Sundaes.
My favorite firework is my tongue around Dana’s right nipple.

		We all will eat
dirt one day.  When will my mother die?  I could ask Rebecca Bartlett,
		Psychic

(“Clairvoyance, Precognition, Medical Intuition, Energy Scan to Pick Up
		Specific Health Issues,
Pet Psychic, Telephone Readings Available”).  But her shop is closed

		and dark.
My favorite firework is the orange one that looks like a weeping willow
		painted on black velvet.

Like it, we make a loud noise, last less than five seconds, and leave
		a tree of smoke.
I like the sign that says, “I’m open when I’m here.  I’m closed when I’m not.”

***

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Donald Platt’s fifth book of poems, Tornadoesque, will be published by CavanKerry Press in 2016. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, BLOOM, Sou’wester, Rattle, New Ohio Review, Southwest Review, and The Best American Poetry 2015. He teaches in Purdue University’s MFA program.

 

 

 

 

© 2015 The Antioch Review

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