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Joseph S Pete May 2020
When I was young, I was a bookish soul
who hung out in the chafed leather chairs
at the Barnes and Noble
wearing an itchy, chafing sweater,
listening to Weezer,
waiting for something good to finally happen
in my rotten teenage life.

It didn’t.
It never did.

The "Sweater Song" would always come on Q101
as my family visited Michigan City,
stopped by the beach, the outlet mall, the zoo,
hitting up pretty much almost all the attractions before 4:30 p.m.

Weezer roared on the stereo and
later at the Tinley Park Amphitheater,
where it was easy to park but impossible to escape.
The band tore into the much-requested cover of Toto’s "Africa,"
knowing everyone just wanted the hits and to get home
and cocoon themselves unthinkingly in Netflix,
that everyone swaddled themselves in a sweater
in some cozy and familiar domicile.
Joseph S Pete Feb 2020
When you're young,
lust burns like a wildfire,
wild and indiscriminate,
wayward and incandescent,
raging and all-consuming.

When you're older and settled down,
when you've accreted some experience,
a few creases, and maybe some midsection flab,
lust draws you to your yoked partner,
connects you with the reliable stability
of a gift shop magnet plastered to the fridge.
Joseph S Pete Feb 2020
Beer list:

A hoppy India Pale Ale
A hazy New England India Pale Ale
A West Coast India Pale Ale
An English India Pale Ale
A British Extra Bitter Ale
A Belgian Framboise
A German Hefeweizen
A Chocolate Coffee Porter
A lot of sorrow
Too much sorrow to drown
In the fortuitous marriage of
Hops, grain, and yeast
Joseph S Pete Jan 2020
My father returned late, a little unsteady,
gin pulsing from his breath,
gin sweating faintly from his pores.

After closing the door softly, he went thermonuclear
when he saw the shoes in the foyer in scattered disarray,
ripping me out of bed in a rage in the middle of the night,

ordering me in a bellowing voice to straighten the shoes right then.
“It didn’t really traumatize me that much,” I professed at the bar
while nearly halfway into my fourth gin that night.
Joseph S Pete Dec 2019
The woman had scarfed down many chalupas

in the Taco Bell drive-thru at the ash end of 3 a.m.

She wolfed down the $3 dollar tacos with “chalupa” shells,

seasoned beef, a three-cheese blend, tomatoes,

lettuce and “reduced fat” sour cream,

with a robotic intensity and general incuriosity about its origins.

So she was shocked when she sat down with her kid

at the immigrant-run El Amigo restaurant

that served fresh salsa with freshly baked tortilla chips.

She had never actually tried an authentic chalupa,

a flat tostada-like deep-fried mold of masa dough

filled with meat, onion, chipotle and salsa.

The manager told her it was in fact

the kind of chalupa you’d find in Oaxaca or Puebla.

He told her he’d replace it, remove it from the table or take it off the bill.

She begged off but ultimately stormed out of the building

without paying the $12 bill, ultimately landing a felony charge

she appealed all the way to the state court of appeals.

The higher courts probably should not be adjudicating

Mexican cuisine, Tex-Mex and pale fast-food imitations,

but it was what is was; however it was served up, it was what is was.
Joseph S Pete Dec 2019
You can be so penurious and parsimonious,
so selfish and greedy, such an avatar of avarice
that a trio of ghosts must haunt you
to get you to behave like a basic human being.

Today, that's the norm, what our culture celebrates.
And the Ebenezers can feel warm about themselves once a year,
while watching theater or the BBC, never making the connection, never leaving a good tip, never giving the homeless a buck, never paying an employee "more than what the market will bear."
Joseph S Pete Oct 2019
The bespectacled elite gathered in the glassy box
of modern architecture, prattling politely about the
poet’s new novel, analyzing psychoanalysts and
parsing the layers of rhetoric that shaped the modern age.

The high-speed spreading at high school debates
served as a high-minded metaphor of linguistic legerdemain,
contained a critique of the vacuity of the era’s political speech.
Outside, a panhandler begged for bites of a breakfast sandwich.
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