Paul sat at a cafe table.
A sign stood on his table with the words
Arguments five dollars.
He played to his strength
since he was not good at reading
tarot or palms.
Business was not brisk.
In fact a cafe patron took pity on him
and brought him a burger with fries.
Paul looked her square in the eye
and said he asked for ham and Swiss
on pumpernickel with chips and a dill pickle.
The woman walked away in huff.
She failed to read the fine print on the sign
that said he accepted barter.
Paul would have added Coke no Pepsi
in quasi-honor to John Belushi
but the woman had brought him a ginger ale.
copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney
When people say how are you,
I reply, Pumpernickel,
because they were not really inquiring
due to some social rules
that do not exist in solid form
or in any manifesto I’ve read on the internet.
On Sundays during football season,
I reply, Da Bears.
Most folks do not notice and proceed
with whatever they meant for me to know—
for me to at least hear and empathize,
though my empathy may be as faked
as their inquiry into my state of being.
Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger. Coke, no Pepsi.
might be a little brash and a dated reference
for the younger generation who never saw
Saturday Night Live in its early years,
though the internet makes all digitally stored moments
retrievable for the curious.
For the few, who are uncomfortably misplaced
in noticing my Pumpernickel
and thus engage me a bit more fully with a smile,
I wish them to find the proper fit of underwear,
a key-phrase upon their tongue during a job interview,
and that their hot shower washes off the day’s worry.
copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney