Prairie Poetry   
  Nebraska: The Good Life

“Your roommate, who has consumed too much wine, too little cheese,
and no crackers at all, blurts: ‘Oh, my god, she always writes about
her dumb boyfriend.’” Lorrie Moore, “How to Become a Writer”

Pretend it doesn’t bother you. Pretend
that you would trade all the June barbeques
and cucumber salads, tan lines and teenage
cousins using the newest high school slang,
and watching your mom vacuum her crystal
blue dough boy, all for this Midwestern December
morning. Either the clock’s batteries have frozen,
or you’re running late. There is no time to wait
for the clogged coffee pot to trickle its job.
Instead, promise God that if you arrive
to class in time to develop a decent coat
of ice over your face, you will stop drinking beer
and do your dishes. Your green pick-up is tired,
and misses similar California
mornings when it was fun to weave through
walnut orchards like a dare-devil. Yet it gets
you to school without sliding through barbed wire
into a snow-covered corn field in time for
your teeth to chatter in between Byron’s sonnets.
You make the mistake of sitting in between
the pen-flicker and the girl who always
has a cold, who doesn’t own a pair of
matching socks, who crunches cereal through
the entire hour. When back at home, pretend you are
not alone. Pretend that a spotted, silly dog
and a shrine-like living room of people you
used to know and be are enough, and stare
at them through a mask of wet salt. Nod your head
when he says he is not having an affair,
and smile in public when blond women hand
him a felt pen, asking him to sign their
pink-laced bras. Realize he is telling the truth when
he says he is just making money, so one day
you can have your own doughboy, and teen-agers,
and a new green pick-up. Swallow the salt and smile
at the women. Go back to the bar and
drink the free whisky his agent buys you.

  Hailey Campbell
  Copyright © 2005 Hailey Campbell
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