Dull White Male Writer
by George Thomas
My garage door has opened.
I unfold my chair and sit with my back
facing these tools.
I unscrew the gas cap of my John Deere
because unleaded ain’t a scented candle yet.
I wave to the occasional passing tractor.
Our brows reveal the sweat of our work,
validating our purposes:
immaculate squares of hay
and the chapter I finished yesterday.
I admire the height of the corn,
our collaboration with God
of nature and enhancement—
a marriage I liken to man and wife
instinctively, albeit noxiously.
A creation of which I am made foreign
by a simple, narrow road seemingly
fit for only mine and his rigs.
I’m assured that most anyone
can traverse it, except
perhaps after it snows.
I sit around and think
of laying words like bricks. Besides,
I’m accused of bearing a mason’s color.
My story is read off the back of my neck,
it’s turns deliberate, the twist spraining
and relieving at once.
Letters of my exploits are addressed to me,
because my readers have their own plots today.
In the safe-space women come and go.
No longer talking of Don Delillo.
I think Sherman Alexie would like me
as his mechanic. I’ll do oil changes
in the background then show him
the grease on my hands like Hoosiers
writing under Chinese pseudonyms.
We will commiserate over Kindles
and I will sneak whiskey in his tea,
losing another generation of ’em.
And I caught Zadie Smith smiling
next to Philip Roth in a photograph.
She might like me too, but quietly
I fear the inevitable awkwardness of her
sharing my Great-Grandfather’s surname.
I’m like a Hemingway, only
simpler, without the chevrons.
My Grandpas were pressed to shoot Nazis
and I could’ve chose to shoot Hajis,
but my machismo was projected onto screens
reliving checkpoint after checkpoint
in a pixelated Fallujah, as I fiddle
my joystick on a Summer vacation.
Yet it led to my first publication:
“We stuck armymens plastic bases
in the sandbox and burned them
into green and tan casualties
with your Daddy’s Bic lighter.”
I read the naked and I read the dead.
I didn’t want to write seven hundred pages about it too.
Alas, it leaves some of my accouterments,
like guilt for the positive correlation
between the repressed and their flesh,
as ripe as a cherry on a Marlboro Red.