My kind of embellishment, #94

-for Studs Terkel

When the wife comes home this eve
and asks, I will say I did
nothing today. But that’s not
entirely true. If Studs
were interviewing me, him,
I would tell a story. How
today I went to throw out
the trash and on the way stopped
by the management office
to pay this month’s rent, and how

a woman, this woman who
works behind the desk (and no,
I didn’t picture her bared
breasts, this isn’t that level
of fantasy), how she asked
if everything was okay
in my apartment, was there
anything needing fixing.
There is. The smoke detector
chirps, and has been taken down,
the coat closet door is off,

has been for months. But rather
than tell her any of this,
I cowered back in my shell
and said, no, nothing, all’s good.
If Studs were interviewing
me, him, I would tell a story.
How I spent today wishing
my life were different, that friends
called more and family weren’t so
far away, and how I wish

we didn’t work all the time.
Had time to sit and visit,
weren’t all so fat and lazy.
How I wish after college
we all could have found a town
useful to the lot of us
and moved in together like
some fifties fantasy. I
am most to blame, no doubt,
for leaving. I kinda wish now
I’d just stayed home. Now too soon

the wife will return, and then
our rituals will begin.
Praying to the gods of long
stories and kisses, pillow
stealing and sleeping under
separate sheets. Then tomorrow
we will wake up and restart
the program. When I chat with
friends from college they will ask,
how’s things, and I will tell them

all’s well, nothing to be fixed,
peachy, dandy, perfect. If
Studs were interviewing me,
him, I would tell a story.
How tonight we were supposed
to go out with some local friends,
the four of us, two couples
out for dinner and maybe
a movie or game of cards.
Whatever. But then the wife
had plans at work, and the friends

flaked out for some non-descript
reason (I always assume
sex). I was pissed. But when asked
I said, naw, we’ll just catch up
another night, another
night, another day when all’s
well and the stars align, when
we fine another night
off, no biggie. If Studs were
interviewing me, him, I

would tell a story. How I
ate half a jar of peanut
butter, played myself a song
on the guitar, made contracts
and goals for the day. Broke them.
How I hate how my boss
at college used to call me
conscientious. And yet now
I spend the day in my head,
in the past, in the old traps
of self-loathing. Am I mad

at the wife, the friends, my boss,
the people in the office?
No, but believe, if Studs were
interviewing me, him, I
would tell a story. How much
I loathed and hated and missed
the people around me. How
nothing gets fixed and no one
calls me. Conscientious? No.
My kind of embellishment.



A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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