the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century



The sundry store at the old Charlotte airport
Was round, under the stairs
Barely enough room to move
Especially with luggage.
I used to buy bubblegum or licorice for 50 cents,
"Star Wars" comic books for 35.
My parents took my brother and me
Up the stairs above the sundry shop
To watch the planes take off for a dime
Placed through the turn still slot to the roof.
We were little, we crawled underneath for free.
Beyond ticket counters,
Past the sundry shop under the stairs
Was the waiting room with TV's.
For a quarter you could watch "Happy Days"
In black and white for an hour.
One time at the airport
Outside the sundry shop under the stairs
I met teen singer Leif Garrett,
Got him to sign his picture.
When I left for college, I threw the autograph away.



Two lines converging into one
high above the green castle
that sways in the wind
as a columnist's opinion
as 2 children gathering leaves
on the school playground
to make pictures later
becoming slightly worried when
the Detention Officer threatens suspension
until they thrust forward
a wadded up piece of paper
with their teacher's signature
scrawled in black ink
that has bled a little around the edges
making their fingers smudgy
but a darker color than
the smudges caused by bleeding newsprint
crinkling and tearing in the breeze
as nylon bends and moves
in its grip beneath the weight
of one individual.



Off Interstate 81 in Virginia
A cow stands on a bridge --
Head low, teeth chomping grass.
His Dentist probably tells him
Grass is not good for your teeth,
Too much soda causes decay,
Or, holes in the enamel.
The high rectangular window
I see from the dental chair:
Tree top views, blurry birds.
A slave of disposable paper cloths,
Fastened chains, numb jaws.
Two weeks after my last checkup,
My Dentist drove into a lake.
I became a vegetarian.



Invisible lines we do not cross
patiently waiting to escape into
the little pink bus
that drifts ... drives
from casino to casino
promising chances
of 3 bar 5 coin 5 cent wins, or
increasing the odds of slot machine paradise
in increments of 25 cents, $1, $5 and sometimes $10.

While they wait ... watching,
locals laugh and tell jokes
as honeymooners clinch hands unsure
of timetables and how much they can afford to lose
as employees sweep carpets, wash off windows
oblivious to anything but the existence of
duty recorded at 45-degree angles.
Eyes feast on ice cream and sweet rolls
while noses sniff pungent smells of
all you can eat seafood buffets
but the feet stay glued
toes locking into position, and
ready for flight
in search of that one-arm bandit
paradise that makes the lines completely disappear.



The white coats are knocking at the door,
Or sometimes the windows
Making the face go numb -
The mouth dry, the eyes twitch.
The juice box is in the middle
Of the road. The car swerves but not
In time. The contents are spilled.
Grape colored liquid spreads into
The streets. Soon it will drain
Down the sewers, into the water supply.
The white coats are removing the hinges
Or ripping the wood apart
Examining hands for splinters -
Completing extractions with tweezers, making
Notes in pen. The ink bleeds
Through the paper. The words blend
Together making the sentences almost incomprehensible.



Two names: mine,
The one in the ceiling
Spelling out Olivia.
Maybe cause I used to buy all her records
(They call 'em CD's now),
Skipped some classes in High School
To see her concert - the Physical tour.
Could be the flower pattern
Designed like a patch of daisies
That come with bugs and allergies
A thousand cures for each
Advertised daily on TV.
But the thing is,
I got to meet Olivia.
She seemed really nice,
Tired, annoyed
When she gave me her autograph.
Maybe cause now she's touring casinos
Instead of coliseums.
When I came home from college
The house with her name in the ceiling
Had been sold.
My parents moved to Florida.