"dirty dishes" and "the secret"
By Alan Horvath


dirty dishes

my wife has become
very good at cutting
her hands.
not only small paper cuts,
but large gashes with
sharp knives
or vicious-looking
garden shears.

a few years ago,
she stuck her hand
in a glass that had
broken beneath the
soap suds in the sink
& proceeded to remove
a considerable peninsula
from her right forefinger.

last month
I left her alone in the kitchen
with a dirty food-processor blade.
seconds later, I knew what
had caused the scream.

the drive to the hospital
for stitches has developed into
a fine-tuned precision drill.
the hospital security even
offered to issue me a
permanent parking sticker.

of course,
this does not take into account
the bangs & bruises she sustains
from walking into filing cabinets
or opening desk drawers
into her legs.

in our new house
we have a dishwasher
to handle all this ugly stuff.

however, now
I am gravely concerned
about the garbage disposal.

the secret

it was my birthday
& it was one of those days.

after breakfast,
the new pills
the doctor gave me
made my heart
beat like an air hammer
crushing concrete.

in the afternoon,
my wife called to
tell me that she
thought she might be
pregnant (although we take
almost every conceivable precaution
known to man).

that evening,
I voted for president
for the first time
since I helped to elect
jimmy carter in 1976
(I admit).

trying to leave the polling place,
the car wouldn't start.
I spent an hour
with the flashlight under
the hood to discover
multiple problems
and no solutions.

walking home
cold, hungry & tired,
I turned on the tv
& saw my candidate
giving his concession speech.

the next day
was not my birthday.

I did not take
one of those pills,
my wife was definitely
not pregnant
& I didn't bother
to look at the election results
in the newspaper.

stuck at the train station
after work without a car,
I was waiting for a bus
to arrive when the rain began.

a short man wearing
a baseball cap
looked at me and
said: "if that god damn bus
doesn't come, I'm gonna
sit right here and eat my sandwich."

"once I ate on the
bus and the driver pointed
to the 'no eating' sign.
I pulled out my knife
& cut down the god damn sign."

this had me a bit concerned
because of my current luck
& the fact that he had
decided to divulge to me
(and me alone) his secret
about the knife.

I reached my breaking point
& cracked.

"I have a knife, too," I said.
"do you want to rumble?"

a frozen look of fear
paralyzed his face.
I could see his IQ of
60 slipping below 20.

he offered me a second
sandwich he had been
saving for his cousin.
I think he was about to
give me protection money
when the bus arrived
& cut us both
into different parts
of a vastly
improving night.

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