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All Poetry & Nothing But

Four Poems
by Matthew Byrne

A Good Thing Going

My hairdresser tells me the same story
every appointment, the one where she
got a clump of hair ripped out of her head
by a large biker woman at a pool hall.
"The bitch didn't like losing," she always
responds, after I ask with incredulity
how such a thing might have happened.
"Did it hurt?" "Nah. There was only wetness
where my hair was, no blood, just wetness."
"How long did it take to grow back?"
At this she smirks with an air
of unmistakable self-congratulation,
then bends down to reveal a glistering
patch of raw, violated baldness. So of course
I reach out and touch it, which sends her
into a frenzy. "You sure know how to push
a girl's buttons," she purrs, and I walk
out of there with a haircut worthy of royalty.

Cancer Needeth Not a Résumé

It was clear from the get-go
he was quite prodigious.

Class bullies, the popular: envy-stricken.
Under their skin he most often wound up.

One day, he was sent up a flag pole by his underwear.
Through a wincing blear he beheld for the first time treetops.
How the recess children scramble, gnarled and ungainly!

During his valedictorian speech
he betrayed a jack-o-lantern grin.

Natural Transition

One day, inundated by patients, each knocking
on his door precisely ten minutes before
the session, at the exact moment he began
his carefully mustered conclusion
for the patient at hand, the shrink had had enough.
His gloomy stained glass lamps blinded,
his electric waterfall soothing device dripped
upon his psyche like ancient Chinese water torture.
And what of this alleged 'psyche', he thought,
this damaged thing I'm qualified to fix?
He couldn't bear to look upon his framed credentials,
the old go-to during bouts of career doubts.
It took everything he had to grind out the day.
For reasons he attributed to acute masochism,
he even accepted an emergency appointment
after hours, with a female patient he despised.
So tell me doc, what's really wrong with me,
she asked, in a tone not unlike mockery.
With a clarity known only at wit's end, he told her:
"You are masquerading as a nymphomaniacal
hypochondriac, when in actuality you are a reporter
for Dateline, sent to expose the therapy industry's
secret agenda to instill transference within
attractive patients, such as yourself." She shrugged.
"What gave it away, the camera in my corsage?"
And so began his life as a wild game warden.


Please, come in. Did you notice the security guard
in the lobby? The filing cabinet stuck in his teeth?
He's paid well to love you. As I speak a factory erects in your name.
You'd be surprised how few understand—
turnover's at an all-time high.

Your assistant, invisible right now, totes tools to scrape
your doubts—if you pledge, he'll use foam.
I, on the other hand, am not your boss, but your Plan.
Look me in the eye when I close it,
or when the pages on my head are blank and I am open.

Wipe off your brow with this punch-card.
I don't punch in I'm never out. Dress code requires
one sleeve up, a microchip behind your tie.
Our competitors hire mystics that blend
with the boiler room. They whisper hexes through the vents.
They slip paper clips in the cafeteria microwaves.
They could be anyone,

which makes the job interesting. A story:
Once, a man founded our company, died in his sleep, decided to bestow
benefits upon his devoted underlings (who burned U's on their tongues
to prove it), married atop a pyramid
—o you know all this.

As I speak your factory annexes a country. Your nodding
crazes the trading pit (they're running notecards across each others' throats)—
your blink just altered the prediction for next year's water harvest.

My eyes are everything like the sun. I read and then I read some more.
You're our domino, kid, a blade of hay
in our needlestack.
How do you see yourself four years from now?
You'll pull that drainplug from the wish fountain.

All Poetry & Nothing ButClash of CivilizationsEC ChairFeatured PoetsForeign DeskGalleryStage
Hedonism: Theory & PracticeLetters & GlossolaliaArt of MarriageMoney TalkPets & BeastsZounds

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