N. Minnick ~ Four Poems


Sometimes an urge takes hold of us and pulls us onto the dance floor
even though we only want to sip our drink and observe.

I don’t mean one of those sud­den, fleet­ing urges
like pee­ing off the back of the boat

or kiss­ing the girl you’ve been stam­mer­ing before 
under a porch light that is being pecked by moths,

but an urge that leads to a life no one saw coming;

like leav­ing your com­fort­able Midwest life and mov­ing to the coast 
to work as a deck­hand on a lob­ster boat

or sell­ing your golf clubs and mov­ing to Key West to per­form card tricks 
on Mallory Square as tourists gath­er to applaud the set­ting sun.

That’s the kind of urge I mean; not the kind when giv­en a Norwegian sweater 
and sud­den­ly you’re lis­ten­ing to the Peer Gynt suites and sipping 
from a cof­fee mug with Munch’s Scream print­ed on the side,

because even­tu­al­ly, your girl­friend will buy you a pair of cow­boy boots.

Did I once stand at such a crossroads?
Did I scrub the wrong deck or kiss the wrong girl? 

On more than one occa­sion, sit­ting in my car in an office park 
before a job inter­view, some­thing in my stom­ach told me 
to dri­ve away, dri­ve, dri­ve away

and I did, 

and I do, tak­ing great plea­sure in the sub­tle iner­tia
of shift­ing gears.


Being a child of the sev­en­ties
I have what some con­sid­er
an irra­tional fear of being crushed
by a falling anvil or grand piano
or run­ning along and real­iz­ing
that there is no ground beneath me.


Of all the peo­ple on this pier ––
the salt­ed and the salty, the sober
and the sloshed, the old salts
with sto­ries to tell, and the tourists
lean­ing over the rail
scan­ning the shal­low water
point­ing excit­ed­ly to a gro­cery bag
float­ing as a jel­ly­fish ––
a sev­en-year-old local girl
who has been carv­ing
chunks of flesh
from the side of a mul­let
to be used as bait reels in a remo­ra.
Without even say­ing Watch this!
she sticks it to a light post
for all to gape at.
Sunburnt fathers in flip-flops
snap pic­tures as she goes about
rebait­ing her hook. 


I got about halfway through How Dante Can Save Your Life
and found myself won­der­ing when the great poet would extend his hand. 

Then I turned to How Proust Can Change Your Life
and began remem­ber­ing the tor­ments of pruri­ence, jeal­ousy and betrayal. 

I start­ed How Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Can Change Your Life and returned to Proust
and mem­o­ries of pac­ing my room with receiv­er in hand beg­ging her to pick up. 

How Beans Can Change Your Life is about near­ly noth­ing at all
yet taught me more about the intestines than I ever want­ed to know. 

With its clichéd cov­er of a halved peach, How Sex Can Change Your Life
left me lone­ly, unsat­is­fied, and non­plussed that the potent Freud is men­tioned only once.

How Rejection Can Change Your Life for the Better advis­es us to shrug off
the aura of self-pity and call our mothers. 

How Handwriting Can Change Your Life insists that P is the let­ter of self-lov­abil­i­ty,
yet I still can­not link it with oth­ers in the alphabet.

How to Change Your Life by Doing Absolutely Nothing does not even need to be read. 

After read­ing How a Side Hustle Can Change Your Life, I went back
to writ­ing poems on grains of rice.

Since none sold, I picked up Miracles: What They Are and How They Can Change Your Life
and straight­away flipped to the index to look for my name. 

The first chap­ter of How Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life is titled “What, Me, Worry?”
after Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman and his gap-toothed grin. 

I put it back in exchange for How Thinking Like a Kid Can Change Your Life.

It hasn’t, so I devoured How Transforming Your Anger Style Can Change Your Life
and began to uti­lize the punch­ing bag that hangs like a uvu­la in the cor­ner of my garage. 

Why are there no books titled How Committing Murder Can Change Your Life
or How Falling in Love with an Exotic Dancer Can Change Your Life?

I plan to some­day write How Burying St. Joseph in Your Yard Can Change Your Life
if ever an offer is made. 

I opened, some­what appre­hen­sive­ly, How Positive Affirmations Can Change Your Life
and my heart­burn flared up. 

How Barefoot Walking Can Change Your Life doesn’t. Unless you have bunions.

How a Pet Can Change Your Life is not help­ful because there is no men­tion
of Siamese fight­ing fish or Burmese pythons. 

How Gymnastics Can Change Your Life is by win­ning five gold medals. 

How Jump Roping Can Change Your Life won’t unless you’ve learned all the rhymes.

I have decid­ed to write my own and call it How Changing Your Life Can Change Your Life
but the the­sis keeps changing.

I would be remiss not to men­tion Rilke’s leg­endary imperative, 
“You must change your life.”

But it’s the pre­ced­ing line, “from here there is no place that does not see you”
that haunts me still and haunts me still. 


Norman Minnick’s col­lec­tions of poet­ry are To Taste the Water (win­ner of the First Series Award from Mid-List Press) and Folly (Wind Publications). He is the edi­tor of Between Water and Song: New Poets for the Twenty-First Century (White Pine Press) and Work Toward Knowing: Beginning with Blake (Kinchafoonee Creek Press). His poet­ry and essays have appeared in The Writer’s Chronicle, World Literature Today, The Georgia Review, Poetry International, and The Columbia Review. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it www.buzzminnick.com. or nminnick234@gmail.com