A Consideration of the Philosophy (ca. 1929?) Advocated Later by Mr. Natural: “Keep the Sunny Side UP!”, Steve Hatfield

Judith Nelson, Zwingle, 1978, 70X70


A Consideration of the Philosophy (ca. 1929?) Advocated Later by Mr. Natural: “Keep the Sunny Side UP!”

 

Part 1: A young man and the problem

Pre-dawn at the Quik-Stop off the freeway near midtown,
Errol stabs his butt, and chooses gum.
His grandma hugged him hard the day he earned his GED
And promised him the best was yet to come.
Now the fountain area needs to be wiped down again,
And he should discipline the candy rack some,
But highest on the list of all the shit he has to do:
Put a tablet in the tank and turn the toilet water blue.

Part 2: A thirtyish mother and the difficulty

Carol scolds the squabbling kids, “Knock it off! Now!”
And drops into a wobbly kitchen chair;
She presses down a stubborn, tongue-shaped tear of vinyl pad
And finger-brushes back her splitting hair…
Then the second hand rebukes her, clicking tsk-tsk-tsk,
And dirty breakfast bowls, judgmental, stare.
Standing, she recalls what she woke up meaning to do:
Put a tablet in the tank and turn the toilet water blue.

Part 3: An ageing widower and the practice

The little thing on News at Noon reminds Darrell he should eat,
So he slices a tomato and makes toast;
Of all the personalities he’s welcomed in since Opal passed
He likes this sunny blonde haired girl the most—
No tragic depth can sink the buoyant lilt she gives the news,
And when tears object, a smile is her riposte.
She says, “Darrell, when you’re sinking, remember what we do?
Put a tablet in the tank and turn the toilet water blue.”

Part 4: An adept and the upshot

Farrell hums a made-up tune, assessing priceless fruit
He grubs tonight behind the grocery store;
This dumpster in particular each week affords a flavor trove
Unfettered men will leave their cell mates for—
He did, the dreamy night a buffalo bull told him to cull
The riches of this valley floor.
Now when the river roils with mud, the bull gives counsel, too:
Put a tablet in the tank and turn the toilet water blue.

___________________
Steve Hatfield

 

Review by Mark Trechock

I liked the repeated phrase in “A Consideration….” Putting a tablet in the tank and turning the water blue (I have seen this in toilets at, for example, parties I attended that were thrown by people with a blue toilet water fetish) does nothing but makes you feel, I guess, better (unless you have the above-mentioned fetish).

Both of these poems [this one, and “Some Little Thing,”] moved me because they powerfully described clinging to the lifeline of rather banal things, without which it is hard to keep going. Good stuff.


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