Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Parking FAQ

Q. Why do I have to pay for parking?
A. To maintain the lots, fill cracks
and potholes, we need money for that,
and money to repaint all
those parallel lines, all those arrows,
mow the islands, plant annuals,
perennials, and keep
electricity in the evening humming
down rows and rows of lamp posts.
Otherwise, vehicles
weaving over a rutted field,
the chaos of night class.

Q. Where can I park?
A. Lots A, C, G, S, 11-20,
and the area across University Drive,
behind the tracking houses, strip mall,
grassland, beyond
the mountains,
designated by this sign:

Q. Is that someone
flying with a short cape?
A disembodied moustache?
A. Look again: a backpacked student
crawling to class,
a vulture roving above.

Q. My friend is leaving campus. Can I
use his permit?
A. Only if you wear his clothes
and attend his classes.
Only if you foam your mouth
with his toothbrush
and dream his dreams.

Q. This not so much a
question but a
complaint about the
proliferation and
height of the
speed bumps and
how going over
them they
rattle my teeth.
A. Wear a mouthguard.

Q. Can I wait in the aisles
for a parking stall to open?
A. When in your life are you not
waiting for something?
You wait for the lecture
to end, movie to begin, email to arrive,
microwave to beep, neighbor’s dog
to quit howling, sex to ripple
across your ravenous flesh. You waiting
for a parking stall is a pint of waiting
in the ocean of waiting
whereupon your heart circles
like an orphaned whale.
In short, ride a bicycle to campus.

Q. I can’t walk from the parking lot
because my leg is in a cast.
What should I do?
A. First, have the Provost sign your cast.
Second, have the Vice-Provost
verify the signature.
Third, from the Dean of Engineering
check out a dolly cart. Fourth,
have the Secretary of Health & Human Services
roll you from class to class.

Q. I don’t want to drive to campus.
What are my alternatives?
A. Walking. The aforementioned bicycle.
The bus. Razor scooter.
Thirty years from now a father
will tell his teenage son,
Back in the day I got to school
on a Razor scooter.
His son in turn will picture the longest
grooves in pavement, wiggling
over sidewalks and crosswalks,
the vandalism of moving forward.

Q. What should I do if my car
won’t start?
A. Sounds like you’re in a horror film.
Listen for zombies. Sounds like monks
chanting. Check your side mirror,
rearview mirror, pray the engine catches
before you try the ignition again,
blind spot. They should be
stumbling closer, closer, each one
slightly pigeon-toed.

Q. Your sarcasm isn’t helpful, your answers
aren’t answers, your answers suggest
a wound underneath, I’m taking
psychology this semester, love it,
love the unpeeling that goes on,
sometimes a wound is underneath, why
won’t you help me?
A. Because I need help myself.
There are days I’m looking for
something—a book, say—walk
into a room and forget
I was looking for a book, days
I wear a jacket of dread and take
a pill or two. Underneath
there’s a wound, on and off since I was six
I’ve sensed menace in the air,
atoms holding knives,
sometimes no pills
but a tumbler of bourbon, the slow
dissolve of one cube.

Q. Hey, are you okay?
A. Better than this morning,
worse than Tuesday, as forlorn
as a child who knows
the kite’s not coming back.

Q. Tell you what, let me make you
some hot cocoa, Nana’s recipe,
in a squat white mug
bring you hot cocoa.
The smell alone, oh man
the smell alone will swaddle your bones.
Can I bring you a mug?
The rich scent and uptwisting
wisps of steam?
A. I’m moved by your offer,
the warm gust of your compassion
despite my unhelpfulness.
This is not so much an answer
but rather me wishing each time
you tap your horn
a parking stall opens magically,
me wishing your car battery
never dies, you have one of those
vampire batteries, lucky you,
lucky life
mile after mile.  end  

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