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