this is our world now
Peter Bakowski, Sudha Balagopal, Amee Nassrene Broumand, Gabriel Cleveland, Chet Corey, Tom Harding, Bob Heman, Alexander James, Michael Jones, Catherine Krause, Nick LB Mack, Jonathan May, Terence McCaffrey, Chris Sparks, Larry D. Thomas, John J. Trause, Korey Wallace, Mark Young
click on the hand
by Dale Wisely, Editor
I work for a suburban K-12 public school district and have plans to retire soon. Summer 2018, maybe 2019. Last year, they opened a Piggly Wiggly across the parking lot from my office. I have said that the presence of the Pig, as these stores are often called around here, has me rethinking retirement.
If you don’t know anything about Piggly Wiggly, all is forgiven if you live somewhere other than the southern or midwestern United States. You people in Europe, or New England, or California may scoff at the ridiculous porcine-vibro name. Or the corporate symbol, cheerfully ripped off from the people who bring us Porky Pig.
Piggly Wiggly invented the grocery store. The first one opened in Memphis, Tennessee in 1916. It originated checkout stands, individually-priced items, and shopping carts. (We call them “buggies” down here. No one knows why.)
Pre-Pig, your granny was not allowed to just walk in the local grocery and gather up her chow. No squeezing the produce. No picking up a packet of shrink-wrapped sirloin, looking at the price, and putting it back. Granny had to go in there, hand the list to a clerk, who would then go through the store and gather the stuff on the list. I know. Right?
The new concept of letting people inspect, choose, then tote their own items made Piggly Wiggly a massive success and forced all competitors to adopt the same revolutionary approach.
I suspect that I am now buying 7 or 8 meals a week at the Pig. If I’m depressed, I don’t eat breakfast at home. I drive in, walk over, and grab a biscuit with protein at the deli. I routinely get lunch there. Maybe twice a week, I pick up dinner and drive it home.
I do leave that store rethinking retirement, but only partly because of the convenience. Mostly is because of Jean, Sam, Linda and a half-dozen other employees whose names I could cite here and who call me by name in the store. If they don't know my name, they call me "Baby." Again, if you don't live in the South, it's hard to explain why being called "Baby" is not only unoffensive, it is comforting.
I recently walked up to a late-middle-aged woman in a clothing store to pay for a necktie I had picked out. She was waiting on another customer. She glanced over her reading glasses at me and said, with an implausible combination of sternness and warmth, "Baby, go put that tie away and let me finish with this customer. Then I'll come help you find a tie."
"Yes, ma'am. Thank you."
Here’s your Issue 110 of Right Hand Pointing. My thanks to our editorial team, F. J. Bergmann, F. John Sharp, and Laura M Kaminski. Thanks to all who submitted and all whose work appears in the issue. I hope you enjoy it.
John J. Trause
1990 – 2000 - 2010
Last night I dreamed I did the lambada
with Nelly Furtado
and Demi Lovato.
Our biggest sales event ever!
Or – biggest sales event: over.
Our biggest sales-event oven!
Or – big test: scales, events, ovens …
Our big test-scale event opens!
Or: big test. Scalp even omens.
Forbid rest. Scald over amens.
The lowered windows
were old enough,
no, huge enough,
to frame us as
gone to widows then.
One sum: gas + fear.
Stoplight Stare, Aleppo, 2001
Stopping en route to pee at three a.m.
I catch the moon's great white face
shining at the window like a prison
light above the courtyard.
Whoever it was looking for
must be long gone;
there's nothing left here but
a few delusions:
your shadow in the dark
and the ghost of the cat
that recently died
brushing his way
between my legs.
Remember that lines still run through nowhere,
that a desert can be paradise for a cactus.
The lovewater you seek can bleed from your bites,
but only if you try. Call the negative space
positive space and see if the universe notices.
Someday I will lie down in my mirage and drink
from my dreams until the sun reduces me to dust.
Larry D. Thomas
The couple that lives
in the white frame house
is like any other.
A deity of some sort
is the playwright
and routine the script
of their lives.
How they pass the gaps
between the lines of the script
the little moments
when they blink,
take a deep breath, hold it,
and wait for the twister siren.
The Little Moments
Larry D. Thomas
As the lights dim
and the voices hush
gulls rise from its troughs
like doves from the snow-
white gloves of magic,
this cavernous opera house
of endless blue-blackness
on whose deep blue stage
but the blue whale sings,
mesmerizing, a thousand,
blue miles away,
audience of its kind.
The Sea at Twilight
Senryu for CEOs
Hotel room, lights out
I mistake a hanging suit
for a figure at the door
splayed on wooden platters
this could be anywhere
I lose Mother in the throng outside Visa Temple. A river of humanity walks around the shrine, singing, chanting. “Come, son,” Mother said a moment ago. Before I can protest, she's gone, borne on the tide of temple-goers.
Mother believes circumambulating the temple eleven times will make my brother's US visa come through. My engineer's mind protests, but I indulge my widowed mother's request and drive her here.
“Move,” a young woman orders. She stands so close, I smell the jasmine flowers in her hair.
“I'm not participating,” I tell Jasmine girl.
“Then, you shouldn't have come. You're in the way. Walk!”
Jasmine gives me a gentle shove. In moments, I'm swallowed by the crowd and walking alongside her.
As for Mother, only the residing deity holds the secret to her whereabouts.
My bare feet encounter warm stones worn smooth by thousands of devotees. The air heavy with incense and flowers, I hear coconuts thrown, cracked and offered in front of the sanctum.
Jasmine sets up a communal chant. Her bangles tinkle as she raises a shapely arm.
“Jai bolo, Govinda.” Her voice is deep, strong, earnest in supplication.
Responses reverberate from all four corners, “Jai bolo, Gopala.”
Echoes ricochet off the temple's walls.
I cannot accept any connection between a 500-year-old place of worship in an Indian town and the granting of US visas. Yet, hundreds visit each day.
I surrender to the collective pace.
When Jasmine falls silent, I ask, “How many more cycles?”
“Why do you care, non-believer?”
Curiosity. Are these her preliminary eleven rounds of praying for the visa, or the 108 thank-you circles after?
“So I know when to get off. I can't keep count.”
A woman extends a silver tray with flaming camphor, the aroma sharp, medicinal.
“Not telling. You don't believe.” Jasmine waves her palms above the flame, presses them to her eyes, embracing the energy.
“I don't wish to go to the US.”
As a heavy-set man jostles me, I teeter. Jasmine crashes against my body and I hold her up. She feels strong, sinuous.
“Sorry!” I'm apologizing for acknowledging sensation.
The light from the temple's oil lamps reflects in her eyes. The combination of camphor, coconuts, incense, flowers and history plant a curious yearning. I believe the guilt of losing Mother makes me breathless.
“I must go. Bye, Jasmine!”
“Who?” She reaches for her braid, scattering some of the flowers.
“Never mind. Good luck, although I don't understand why anyone does this.”
“Are you married?” she pushes back her hair, a challenge in her question.
Nervous, I laugh. “No.”
“You'll understand when you're separated from your spouse because of a piece of paper. I'll do a thousand rounds of this temple to be with my husband.”
Someone shouts my name.
“Mother!” I wave. When I turn around, Jasmine has disappeared.
In the car, Mother asks if I'll bring her back when my brother receives his visa.
I ponder before I answer.