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     Bad Hair Day, Revised & Expanded

       RC Monson / Humor
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Bad Hair Day, Revised & Expanded

Revised & Expanded


Spit & Vinegar Publications


Revised and Expanded, June 2017
ISBN: 9781370238545

© Copyright 2017 RC Monson
All rights reserved.

Cover art by Livewire Productions
Cover illustration courtesy of

Homer in a Satin Bag
Michele’s Wishing Well
My Own
Collars Starched, Creases Perfect
As the Woman Shrieks
Hannah’s Bandana
Too Self-Conscious for Popcorn
Waiting for the Green Light
Fanciful Notions
A Letter to Dayton, Ohio
Careening into Upheaval
The Mean Time
Snow Jobs
Our Tribal Dance
Bad Hair Day
Parting Shot
Homer in a Satin Bag

He calls himself.
And when he went to jail
We couldn’t visit because
We didn’t know his name was

He has six teeth
In a straight row
Across the bottom
Like an upside-down grin.

He knows the dark side
And claims he never projects;
He has seen what evil
Does with good intentions.

He got too drunk
And when the cops arrived
They discovered Homer,
A constant companion to

Who carried Homer around
In a satin bag,
Inside a silk bag,
Inside a paper bag.

Received the skull as a gift:
It was a human skull,
Burnished with age
And had even fewer teeth than

Who tries to describe
The look on the cop’s face
Upon reaching into the satin bag
And pulling Homer out.

He snickers through
A big upside-down grin and says:
They said I can have Homer back
After they run a few tests.
Michele’s Wishing Well

Way out on the edge again
Atop a sheer granite precipice
Michele surveys the strange ghostly
Magical allure of an extinct ocean.

From a mountaintop that formerly
Presided under blankets of water
She can almost remember the uproar
Of submarine volcanoes oozing life.

With a graceful flick of her wrist
She sends a penny soaring thin air
On a wish and promise that love
Can only hurt as much as she lets it.

The little shells she’s woven in her hair
Ring out bright blue as her smiling eyes.
Her collection of fossils and tattooed boys
Attests to a history of torrential passages.

The penny seems at first to float
And already cloaked in a green patina
It darts off like a breeze-blown feather
And gradually, gradually drifts out of view.

When at last it plunks the surface
Of Michele’s wishing well, she envisions
Copper bells chiming long-ago oceans
Like the waves themselves learning to ring true.
My Own

When I was small
I didn’t know they called
the busy streets arteries.

All I knew was
I couldn’t have a bike.
I couldn’t have a bike because of
a bad dream, Dad’s bad dream,
involving crushed spokes
and the severed artery.

This was a dream he often had.

So, I couldn’t be trusted
to stay off the busy streets
we lived between,
two narrow one-way streets
lined with elm trees,
all the way down the hill
to the valley—downtown,
the hub, the heart,
where fields of asphalt
were set aside
just to park on.

Maybe if we lived there
I could have a bike,
because cars only park there,
and when they drive
they drive real slow,
so a kid on a bike
would be safe there.

I learned to ride
my friend’s bike
on the tennis court
at Wellesley and Lead.
If Dad had found out
he’d’ve brained me,
even though I was only a child
and didn’t understand
the complex anatomy
of daily traffic patterns.

In school
they taught us
simple biology by dying
stalks of celery red
or blue or yellow;
they explained how
plants and trees have arteries
just like people,
how blood carries oxygen
on highways that branch
into roads and cul de sacs,
carrying oxygen through
arteries and veins and capillaries
to our fingers
and our toes.

And so it was
that my child’s mind
was able to comprehend
the tragedy when—
early one morning
on the tennis court,
as we watched the cars
go hurling by—
brakes screeched, tires skidded, a horn honked
and kept on honking as a loud thump
tossed a car over the curb
into one of the old elms
that lined the street
all the way downtown.

We ran to see
and wished we hadn’t as a woman slowly emerged,
bleeding and bleeding all over her face,
her hands, her blouse, and she staggered
to her knees on the lawn,
and there were men telling us to get back!
And they surrounded the bleeding woman,
and we peeked in,
and the men cried out, “Get lost, kid,”
and pushed us away.

So we went
with some other men
to look at the car,
its solid chrome face
lodged in the elm’s bark,
and the tree was weeping sap,
and I felt like crying too,
because I knew
about arteries now,
and a little something more
about the agonies
of the human condition.
The tree still has the scar;
it lives with that scar,
and when I drive by
I always remember
bits and pieces
of Dad’s bad dream,
almost as if it were
my own.
Collars Starched, Creases Perfect

My father possessed
in place of a chip on the shoulder
this mean little sergeant
according to Aunt Shirley
the little sergeant was always there
Dad took the sergeant with him
when he joined the Air Force
promoted to staff sergeant before discharge
nine years later his college years
delivering laundry, selling shoes at Sears
up half the night, mom typing term papers
beans, fried spuds, tortillas
eaten so often they return in nightmares
with flatulent cold-war jargon
Dad’s beloved AIR FORCE
jet turbines churning out
powerful streams of hot air
linear aeroglyphs of frosted plumage
hundreds of miles long
years of tedious government liaison work
a cramped cubicle one can call one’s own
issuing and receiving orders
it wears a person out
but don’t look for comfort in a bottle
I told him not to do it
but it was too late for him to start learning
how to take orders from me
According to Aunt Shirley
Dad’s first home furlough came
long before he actually attained sergeant status
This strapping teenaged private comes home
spouting orders like he’s fit to take charge
He doesn’t bother to ask
He delegates the laundry detail:
“I want the collars starched
and the creases perfect!”
He never suspects that in his absence
all of his younger sisters would develop
little sergeants of their own
“Collars starched,” Aunt Donna scowls
“He’ll get his collars starched!” Bee snarls
“And that’s not the half of it,” Shirley chimes in
And so it was that the wanna-be sergeant,
upon return to his stark barracks,
unpacked a duffle bag containing something of himself—
a neat stack of clean uniforms
each piece as stiff as a shingle
As the Woman Shrieks

Quincy hears her ranting through an unpadded wall that probably should be. Her ravings alternate between uncontrollable weeping jags and violent tantrums that spell out the complete meaning of psychosis. He has a feeling that
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