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Progress
by Michael R. Burch

There is no sense of urgency
at the local Burger King.

Birds and squirrels squabble outside
for the last scraps of autumn:
remnants of buns,
goopy pulps of dill pickles,
mucousy lettuce,
sesame seeds.

Inside, the workers all move
with the same très-glamorous lethargy,
conserving their energy, one assumes,
for more pressing endeavors: concerts and proms,
pep rallies, keg parties,
reruns of Jenny McCarthy on MTV.

The manager, as usual, is on the phone,
talking to her boyfriend.
She gently smiles,
brushing back wisps of insouciant hair,
ready for the cover of Glamour or Vogue.

Through her filmy white blouse
an indiscreet strap
suspends a lace cup
through which somehow the ****** still shows.
Progress, we guess, ...

and wait patiently in line,
hoping the Pokémons hold out.

NOTE: This poem is almost entirely fiction. There was a Pokemon craze when my son Jeremy was a little boy, and I did see birds and squirrels foraging in parking lots from time to time (and sometimes fed them myself from my car’s window), but everything else is fiction. On the rare occasions that I went to a Burger King, I would go through the drive-in, so I wouldn’t have known who the manager was, or how much time he/she spent on the phone. I think the poem probably started with the image of birds and squirrels squabbling for scraps of food in a parking lot as I waited in a line of slow-moving cars, then evolved as I imagined the hassle of going inside to “speed things up.” Keywords/Tags: America, Americana, American, culture, society, vanity, youth, progress, fast food, video games, Pokemon, MTV, music videos, glamour, models, supermodels, fashion, transparency, see-through, bra, breast, *******
Marco Feb 27
San Francisco, 1977
I sat by my window and listened
to the crying of Carlos Santana and the wind
His guitar told stories
of home in México and how he yearned for it
and the wind kept howling along
as if it tried to bring him back
and I wished for Carlos to be home
and I wished for the wind to carry him there
and I wished for myself to be somewhere else
where the city isn't as big
and the people aren't as greedy
and the love comes naturally, not for fifty bucks a night

So I sat by my window
and listened to the sound of Santana's guitar
and the wind crying
and I understood
as I wept along.
Marco Feb 27
'95
I still find myself thinking back to 1998 -
my brother died, my father cried, my stomach ached.
I still find myself thinking back to 1995 -
my brother lived, my brother laughed, he kept me warm at night.

Empty eyees and willful wrists and jeans with holes at the knees
Screaming voices making promises that our backsides couldn't keep
Scarred skin and broken noses, bruises gracing every inch
Between brothers, blood kept pouring from our fists
and hearts.

I remember he was older but most times too afraid to speak
I had to hold his hand behind his back when he held his graduation speech
He was captain of the football team and he led the boys quite well -
it was only when he got home, then he'd make my bottom lip swell.

Vacant words and stone-hard stares abd squared jaws with a few loose teeth
Hot-cold hearts beating loud in tact, a rhythm like a war drum
Between brothers, blood kept pouring from our hearts.

I still find myself thinking back to 1995 -
my older brother, my best friend, who kept me warm at night,
he'd beat me up once a week but yelled he loved me everyday,
I believed every single word that he shouted in my face.

Between brothers, blood kept pouring from our fists and hearts.
Between us, hate kept flooding from our eyes and scars.
All the tears, we shed them together, over you and me.

1998 was a rough year.
Marco Feb 27
I remember us stealing our daddy's car
we drove at night, your dress black as tar
went to the beach and you screamed freedom
like a dog howling at the midnight moon

The street burned hot in the midday's sun
and in the church down the road the sermon's begun
remember how they wouldn't let you in no more
because of the floral skirts you wore
and never got quite rid of the stench
of the *** that you smoked on our front porch bench

You never managed to hold down a job
never worked a day, cause you got lost
in words of beauty, your own poetry
even wrote a little something for good ol' daddy
Bruce Springsteen-inspired text about the movie "The Beach ***".
Marco Feb 12
snakes surrounding my trailer
kick down the door
break all windows
knock me to the floor
I know what they're here for

they want me
I know that they want me
they don't even hide it
black eyes, black hair, black stare
he doesn't even hide it

a punch to the guts
a cut on my cheek
kisses me with a fist
my eye as black as his
he knew he wouldn't miss

and they want me
I can feel they want me
he doesn't even hide it

whisper into the night
hissing like vipers
biting like vipers
poisoning my wine
running out my nose
poisoning my mind

they got me
they know that they got me
I don't even hide it
black eye, black hair, blank stare
he takes my hand
and leads me out.
Marco Feb 12
We don't talk anymore
you wished I was honest
I sit by the door
every night
with a baseball bat

It took us
a shock and a ******* bullet
between your ribs
for me to care again, for you to forgive

Where did we go wrong anyway?
for us to drift
so far
the grand canyon between
my heart
and your wound
between flesh and
blood

This is not who we are -
we used to be
Sunday morning OJ
pancakes for dinner
football on Tuesdays
type of love
I need you back
don't die on me
don't-
Marco Feb 12
I can hear them screaming
outside
snakes surrounding the trailer
rattling in the night
rattling my mind

calling for me
waiting
I can't figure it out
I need to figure it out

too many problems to solve
none of them are mine
my father's legacy
turn blood into wine
there's blood on my mind

they're calling for me
waiting
I can't figure them out

snakes surrounding the trailer
fighting for my heart
tearing at my shoulders
always on guard
they're always on guard and

they're calling for me
waiting
I know they're waiting
who hit me last night?

they won't be waiting forever
I'm a graying aged gunfighter
Time to get out of the game
I can not see to shoot my gun
I can not see to aim

I used to be the best there was
The top of every list
Now I can't hit a **** barn door
I shot at one and missed

I could out draw anyone
Who faced me on the street
Now, I'm more than likely
To put a bullet 'tween my feet

I play a little poker now
Spend my days just passing time
I break even mostly
The way I play, well, that's a crime

No one round here knows me
They don't know about my past
To them I'm just a codger
I don't do one **** thing fast

I noticed things were changing
Ten years back I'd say
I had a gun fight in Dodge City
And it didn't go my way

I threw down with some punk kid
He was drunk and really ******
I got my gun stuck in my holster
He fell down, he shot, he missed

I walked to him now laying
In the street, out cold, not dead
I took his gun and holster
And then went home to bed

A gunfighter of substance
Would have killed me where I stood
Was I lucky he was drunk then?
Or was I losing it for good?

I packed my stuff up in the morning
I left the town later that night
The next fighter might be sober
And I'd not survive that fight

I took off for the desert
Made plans just where I would go
A state where I could hide out
Where my past, no one would know

On the way I stopped and practiced
Shot some cactus and some trees
I was shooting though at rabbits
I can't survive here eating these

One day, a rogue coyote
Came and took me by surprise
I shot a tree, it fell on him
I aimed between his eyes

The sooner I got settled
The safer I would feel
Too much longer in the desert
I'd end up some varmints tasty meal

I rode on in to where I am
I can't tell you just what town
I've got to keep it secret
Or I may just get shot down

I have a small room at the hotel
I play cards to pay the rent
I speak with a slightly muddled accent
I try to be a southern gent

I've been here now for near six months
The town is growing fast
So, my time here might be cut short
With the future, comes my past

For now I just play poker
An old gunfighter at heart
One day I know they'll find me
I'll go to boot hill in a cart

I'm an aged old gunfighter
There's not many still around
I'm hiding now from my last gunfight
That will put me six feet in the ground.
e-c-d-c Dec 2019
please marry me. please, oh my god, please marry me,
because i have feelings i need to bury in the backyard
of our really nice house on our quiet gated street. i can
give you slightly above average *** and you can give
me your arm around my waist, boring and boring and
steady, a nice "have you met my wife?" to round off
the pleasant evening. we're friends, we're friends, you
tell your stories to an adoring audience, but you're only
looking at me, and i draw the shape of your head over
and over, trying to get it right. we can be alright, isn't
that what we all want in the end? i can give you those
chubby hands, a gummy smile, through the bars of the
crib, and you can be the voice over in the first birthday
party home movie, the proof that it's not just me. i roll
over in the dark and my arm hits you and it's not just me.
and when you get too drunk i can be the stern hands on
the steering wheel of our sensible car, and when i get
too sad, you can help me fill out doctor's office forms.
relation: spouse. tell me we don't have to be in love. i
don't want to be in love, i want the beige place mats, the
suburban nothing, the pb&j cut into triangles, a life of
april tuesdays. we can get a ****** golden retriever and
make our baby wear one of those flower headbands from
etsy and you can say, "i don't think you've met my wife,"
and when i roll over in the dark, you'll be there, boring boring steady, and
we can be alright.
getcha a starter home and a stand-up man, ladies, that's the gotdamn american dream.
AvengingPoet Mar 2019
A small piece
Of Americana
Maybe it isn’t all that bad

I live for it
I’m indoctrinated by it
I thrive for it
But each day is a darkening challenge
In This American Dream

I’m told I can go my own way
But is it all a lie
Told to us on digital screens
That make us shake and ache
Like a man looking for another dose

Cliches and buzzwords
Ones and zeroes
America, were you ever there?
God, I sure don’t know

I hear the art and culture
The music of New York and Texas and California
The comic fantasies of Marvel and D.C.
Your writers of fictions
And your Hollywood Dream Factory Machine
But do I pull myself up by the bootstraps
Or simply check my Twitter again?

But it probably doesn’t matter at all
I’m glad you’re here, with your vast land of religious zealots and cultural pockets

Everyday I hate you
Everyday I love you.

God Bless The USA
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