Kurt Olsson ~ Five Poems


Sonny and I are look­ing for floor mats for his car. Store after store, hun­dreds upon hun­dreds of mats. No luck. Finally, I take out a knife, tell him I’ll cut myself in two and Sonny can use me as a floor mat. We’ll star in a hit TV series, we’re cops, and I’m the mat in his cop car. We solve crimes. When asked by the scan­dal sheets what life is like when Sonny isn’t in the car, I’ll say it’s okay, it’s kind of like being a dog and time is a Frisbee.



The fer­ret sleeps on my head. A may­or of New York once likened own­ing a fer­ret to a sick­ness. To those who ask, I say a fer­ret is like a Slinky with eyes. In an old TV com­mer­cial, a boy and a girl watch one cas­cade effort­less­ly down a flight of stairs.



I bump into Sonny at the deli. He asks how the stand-up poet­ry thingam­abob is going. I tell him I’m done with it. And because the line to the counter is as long as it is I tell him what else I’m done with: red meat, alco­hol, the amper­sand, white rice, unpaid over­time, heav­en, car horns, Peter, Paul & Mary, sleet, kids’ menus, the use of etc. at the end of sen­tences, emo­jis, fan­ta­sy foot­ball, air­ports. Sonny blinks, looks up at the menu, orders roast beef and Swiss on etc.



Sitting alone in the right field bleach­ers at a minor league game because Sonny promis­es I’ll get a sou­venir. We drink flat beer, most­ly in silence, respect­ful, wait­ing, tense. In the final inning, a play­er on the oth­er team hits a long lazy dri­ve our way. It lands and ric­o­chets around but I chase it down no prob­lem. We’re the only ones left. When the game ends and we make our way to Sonny’s car he tells me as a kid their neigh­bor­hood was so poor they had only one base­ball and when they played they rubbed the ball in dog shit before­hand so nobody would steal it.



I can’t cry any­more so I vis­it the den­tist. The den­tist opens my mouth and looks inside, then excus­es him­self and leaves the room. I sit with hun­dreds of plas­ter casts, all grin­ning mag­nif­i­cent­ly. When he comes back, the den­tist tells me he knows exact­ly what to do. Later, when I wake, the den­tist hands me a mir­ror. I look and see noth­ing. Not a tooth, not a sin­gle one. I am my mother’s bawl­ing baby boy again.


Kurt Olsson’s work has appeared in a wide vari­ety of pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing Poetry, The Threepenny Review, The New Republic, and Southern Review. He’s pub­lished two col­lec­tions of poet­ry, Burning Down Disneyland (Gunpowder Press) and What Kills What Kills Us (Silverfish Review Press). The lat­ter was award­ed the Towson University Prize for Literature, giv­en annu­al­ly to the best book pub­lished the pre­vi­ous year by a Maryland writer, as well as named Best Poetry Book by Peace Corps Writers. A third col­lec­tion, The Unnumbered Anniversaries, is due out next year.