|"All That Fake Laughin' for Nothin'," by Wayne White|
One Massage Therapist Massages Another
by Tyler Gobble
after Kenneth Koch
One massage therapist massages another, and she dove
Face first onto that chair she hovers over
Daily, blue with a slight hint of other body.
One barber trims up another, both quieter than usual,
The one in the chair glancing
At the large-mouth bass and stuffed quail he’s seen a thousand and three times,
But now, the first from this angle. One mathematics
Tutor instructs another. And here age is important for the first time
In the poem—the old woman in control, her white hair soaked
In equations, tutoring the boy in Calculus, driver’s license still wet
In his pocket. He drives his mom’s Corolla
Down Cherrywood, reinforcing the times table to third graders
Waiting on their teeth to grow back. One construction worker builds
Another, out of spare two-by-fours and a tarp, putty
And a hard hat, to recreate his friend Earl,
Eight years on the same crew and poof! Earl is gone, transferred
To Wisconsin. One state fair food truck worker feeds another.
She trades a hand-breaded tenderloin for a rain check
On a jumbo lemonade and deep-fried Twinkie. The boy consumes
It right then and there, Mavis of Mavis’s Loins staring
Down at Steven, his summer job at the stand across the way,
Deep frying everything—Twinkies and Oreos, bacon and Coca-Cola.
She waits to make certain he is appreciative. One truck driver
Drives another. Two fellas from two states, one south, one east,
Their trailers of difference, the one with a load of balloons
And a flat tire. The other, the chicken hauler, pulls behind the flares,
Ahead of schedule, and takes the lead on the tire change,
Which takes him longer than he expected. Both now behind
Schedule and together, the chicken hauler decides
To show the balloon boy, as he calls him in his head,
A cozy, cheap diner stashed away in the hills. One ultimate fighter
Ultimately fights another to death, but the death comes
Much later, after they’ve both left the ring,
After they’ve both showered, after they’ve both drank champagne
With their spacetakers, so stoked to still be alive.
Tyler Gobble is currently a poetry fellow at the Michener Center for Writers. Alongside Jennifer Whalen, he hosts Everything Is Bigger, a reading series in Austin, TX. His first full-length collection, MORE WRECK MORE WRECK, is available from Coconut Books. He prefers disc golf, sleeveless shirts, porches, and bacon. More at tylergobble.com.
[Image above by Wayne White]