Poetry

October 15, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Janusz Kaliszczak photo

 

By

Mark Williams

 

 

 

Magnets

 

 

It’s the week of my wife’s fiftieth high school reunion,

and instead of worrying about what to wear or what

I’m going to say to a roomful of strangers other

than my wife and our friends Rhonda, Susan,

and her husband, Mike, I’m fooling around on Facebook

reading rants about party guy Brett Kavanaugh who said,

I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect

when someone named Bob D. writes,

Don’t you people realize he’s innocent?

on one of Rhonda’s posts—Rhonda being left of me,

and I’m pretty far out there.

 

So I, figuring Bob D. is being facetious

(he is a friend of Rhonda’s, after all) am surprised

when a few comments later I realize he’s serious,

forcing me to write, I don’t know you, Bob.

I thought you were being facetious. Now

that I realize you weren’t, I’m glad I don’t know you,

to which Bob—and I have to give him some credit for this—writes,

Oh, my, Mark Williams, I hope I don’t lose any sleep over this!

which is ironic when, after going to his Facebook page,

I discover that he’s coming to the reunion,

and I have trouble going to sleep.

 

*

 

On April 24, 1804, the Albany Register published a letter

from one Charles D. Cooper stating that

Alexander Hamilton regarded New York Gubernatorial

candidate and hothead, Aaron Burr, to be a dangerous man

who ought not be trusted with the reins of government,

in my opinion far more inflammatory than

I’m glad I don’t know you. But we all know

how things turned out for Alexander Hamilton. Don’t we?

 

Still,

my wife is counting on me to attend her reunion,

and I say I will if she promises not to introduce me

to the guy who wrote to a sweet girl in her yearbook.

Yep, Bob D. So not only will he be at the reunion,

he’s more apt to come up and speak to a woman

he once considered to be a sweet girl

(who’s now a sweet woman, I should add), and

I have zero desire to get into it with the guy.

 

*

 

A few days before the reunion

I read the New York Times article,

“Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes

as He Reaped Riches From His Father,” and think,

Wouldn’t it be something if they get him on tax fraud

like they got Alphonse Gabriel “Scarface” Capone?

No, really, I had to look that up—Al’s full name—

and when I did, I read about Al’s archrival, George “Bugs” Moran,

intended target at the Saint Valentines Day Massacre

which left seven dead in a Chicago garage—

not that I think anything like that will happen at the reunion.

But when I walk into the room, the first thing

a pleasant woman asks me to do

is to put on my nametag.

 

*

 

All things considered, the reunion, thanks to Mike—

who introduces me to a glass of Blue Moon Belgian White

Belgian-Style Wheat Ale garnished with an orange slice—

is going pretty good. And thanks to several Blue Moon’s,

Mike and I are laughing at my Bob story until,

standing on a balcony above the reunion, Mike says,

incoming, left shoulder, and sure enough, it’s Bob D.,

who reminds me of Chuck Grassley with an earring.

 

The thing about reunions—past the tenth year or so—

is you find yourself glancing at nametags, hoping

he or she won’t see your eyes lower to his or her tag.

He must wonder who I am, I think.

He’s bound to look at my name tag, which I obscure

with my glass of Blue Moon Belgian White

Belgian-Style Wheat Ale, key word, White,

enabling Bob to peer through, I suspect.

“Nice night,” I say, and walk away.

 

*

 

Think of two magnets at a high school reunion:

one standing at the bar for a draft Blue Moon

beside one awaiting a mixed drink; one

walking down one side of the silent auction table

as one walks up the other; not to mention

simultaneous trips to bathroom. All night long,

my positive (I’d like to think) attracting his negative.

Think of Mike and Susan (who Mike has informed of my polarity),

laughing when Bob D. steps to my table

to visit said sweet girl.

 

On July 4, 1826, with undying hope for his country,

John Adams, on his deathbed, said

of his one-time bitter rival turned friend,

Thomas Jefferson still survives (though

Jefferson had died minutes earlier). The way things stand,

it’s hard to imagine reconciliation

between the Bob D.’s and me’s in my lifetime.

I keep my mouth shut at family gatherings.

A NOT MY PRESIDENT sign hangs in our garage.

And yet…

 

*

 

It was drizzling that night. No use my wife getting wet.

I would pick her up at the door. But walking

through the parking lot, halfway to our car, I saw him,

leaning against his car beneath a streetlight, smiling.

 

“Goodnight, Mark,” he said.

“Sleep well, Bob,” I answered.

 

 

 

 

Mark Williams

Mark Williams attends reunions in Evansville, Indiana. His writing has appeared in The Hudson ReviewThe Southern ReviewIndiana ReviewRattleNimrodThe American Journal of Poetry, Poets Reading the News, and the anthologies, New Poetry From the Midwest and American Fiction. This is his second appearance in Tuck Magazine.

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