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The Genuine Article Kim Ode A Lucky Park Production St. Paul, Minnesota 2011

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Tracks Hosting................................................................................6 God Gets the Night Shift....................................................8 The Genuine Article............................................................9 Love Bug...........................................................................10 Wishing and Hoping.........................................................11 Bake Until Done...............................................................12 Airborne............................................................................13 Someday I Will Complain of Heat....................................14 Pessimists..........................................................................16 Optimists...........................................................................17 Jetsam................................................................................18 The Newsroom..................................................................19 Sweet Revenge..................................................................20

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Hosting Teenagers are everywhere. In the kitchen. On the deck. I am the shortest person here. I am not a nervous wreck Yet. The kids have just over an hour Before curfew. Lovely law. Then I get my house back And can stop biting my lip Again. It’s not tension so much as Envy and awe At their ease with each other. It’s not like I want do-overs Of high school. Just shoot me 6


Now. No, it’s mostly about accepting That I’m the mom here. Those situations that make me quake Like I'm 15 are pimpled evidence That life, still, is so not fair.

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God Gets the Night Shift I remember my mom Sitting on the edge of the bed, Teaching me a bedtime prayer As I laid me down to sleep. Four lines and an amen Seemed just right. Years later, I learned that there were lines About never again waking up, And realized that mom Must have considered the consequences Of a tired child contemplating mortality. I remember asking her why we pray Instead of just rolling over. She said it’s a nice thing To think about someone’s love Guarding us through the night. Years later, I learned that’s how mothers Let themselves sleep.

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The Genuine Article The ferns and philodendrons In malls and doctors’ waiting rooms Are puzzlers. The fakes can look more real Than real plants, So much so that I find myself Reaching surreptitiously, Always surprised when they’re alive. It’s gotten so that I feel stupid Whatever the outcome, Either stroking plastic leaves, Or pinching a frond with roots in Eden. So when you tell me that you love me, I decide to just believe you.

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Love Bug A mosquito works the screen Gambling endless minutes of its brief existence On the hunch That there’s a hole.

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Wishing and Hoping Getting the cute boy for a lab partner … Returning a loan officer’s handshake … Glimpsing the last wedge of chocolate cake As the waiter pulls out your chair … The way our eyes light up With the possibility of good fortune Does not go unobserved. The wise witness knows How to exploit our expectations, Just as the savvy sea captain knew The miles he could gain On the prospect of mermaids more comely Than those the lookout Swore he’d glimpsed.

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Bake Until Done You could do worse than look To an old church cookbook When pondering questions such as, How long? How much? How many? Finding that the answer often is “Enough.� Wisdom so pure and plain We tend to underestimate its value, Much as those women who sat in the pews Silently devising new recipes While the pastor reminded them to be meek.

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Airborne The tornado lifted my father, Not so far up that he saw cows Or farmhouses or wicked witches, But far enough that he found himself On the other side of the harrow, Transported over the honed edges Of those determined steel discs That made short work Of last fall’s cornstalks and cockleburrs. He’d climbed from the tractor To gauge the gun-metal cloud, Only to find himself east When he’d been west. Wondering – and not for the last time -Whether he’d been toyed with, Or rescued.

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Someday I Will Complain of Heat I’m tired of stomping my shoes Before walking into a building Bound by the grim etiquette Of dutifully shedding slush. I’m tired of looking for my other glove And embarrassed by how I cling To the hope that I’ll find it. As if this winter should be any different. I’m tired of mincing along sidewalks In that stupid flat-footed waddle And hearing about your ice dam And seeing panty hose flung in gutters. I’m tired of knowing that Per Hansa’s body Wasn’t found until the next May 14


Yet unthawed after seeking refuge In a distant haystack. I’m tired of coping with March, Which isn’t that different from February. I dream of the day I grow tired Of coping with another scorcher.

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Pessimists Unstaked tomatoes Let them keep bitching about Too few BLTs.

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Optimists They know how it feels When a cat launches herself At a passing bird.

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Jetsam From the sand, the battered prow of a canoe Breaks the lake bottom's liquid lines. Over there, a coffee mug that arrived With curses in its wake. Each summer, there is a new thing: Binoculars Sunglasses A fishing rod Irretrievable under fathoms of rain and snowmelt. A fish, with a flick of its tail, avoids Colliding with an empty beer bottle On its way down. It clinks against an abandoned anchor, Breaking into alehouse shards. Given enough wind, and waves, and time, One fragment stands a slim chance of ending up As softly sculpted sea glass on some scrounger's shelf. If only it can achieve a beach. 18


The Newsroom By the time I was hired The grid of linoleum squares Was the color of sloshed coffee, Grimier along the cracks Worried into gouges by reporters waiting With the smug patience of cats For the mayor Or the principal Or the CEO Or the girlfriend To decide which version of the truth Would fly. So when the linoleum went, So did some of the old strategies. In the face of unstained fibers Explanations seemed cleaner. Then someone dumped their latte And we could start smirking again. 19


Sweet Revenge He didn't need to tell the newspaper reporter How he'd decided to reach down And grab a Snickers bar Only to have the next guy Seize the moment And reach around him To buy a lottery ticket, As if that also was like winning. And how, instead of making a scene, He just bought the next ticket, Which led to this interview Because the MegaMillions jackpot Really was. He didn't need to tell the story. But he knew that word gets around. That it was a Snickers bar? You just can't make that up. 20


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Kim Ode will forever be a farmer's daughter from South Dakota. But she's also a baker, a mother and a journalist. She likes how life sounds more intriguing when it's put inside a poem.

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The Genuine Article, by Kim Ode  

14 Tracks of Whack