Bad hair day revised ex.., p.1
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       Bad Hair Day, Revised & Expanded, p.1

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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.
br />   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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