Contests : Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest : Past Winners : 2013 : Josh Lefkowitz
Saturday Brooklyn Mo(u)rning!
At long last I bid you farewell.
The sun has reached its noontime apex.
Unadorned by clouds, its heat and light spill out across the boroughs of the world.
Women of this past year!
At long last I bid you farewell as well.
You were all the lot of you beautiful individual bookmarks.
You helped us remember where we were.
But now we have a brand new Kindle,
and so we kindle this sharp new spark,
and so we kindly put you back into the desk and close the drawer (we hope) forevermore.
Yet first I am calling you all out by name!
For I am the Elia Kazan of lovers!
Summoned before the committee, I will name all names!
Let me carve those names upon the rock of memory.
Blonde-haired office crush,
She whose finely-drawn cheekbones catch and play off halogen cafeteria lighting,
Your beauty was distracting like the internet.
And pursuing you proved to be as unfulfilling as a day spent surfing that internet.
Ballet dancer, friend of my friend,
How I marveled at your physical flexibility
but you proved to be inflexible in matters of casual lust.
You're swell but not for me. I think on this point we both agree.
Internet start-up girl, friend of my friend,
I spent an awful lot of money on dinners for you.
This was because for me the task of dating was still strange, still new,
and you joined me for those many meals, then said "just friends will do."
Next time I spend that much will be on a craigslist prostitute.
Curly-haired coffee shop barista,
You should have shed that boyfriend months ago.
I chased you like an overweight cop pursues a quick n' lean criminal.
I ran out of longing. I ran out of steam. I ran out of breath. I ran out of hope.
Now I am comfortably seated at some new coffee shop with a poppyseed muffin in my
hand and an altogether new woman in my mind.
Red-haired ice cream scooper girl,
You too have a boyfriend,
which you casually mentioned in our first meeting.
Thank you for doing that!
You saved me a lot of time and energy!
I really appreciate that!
And now goodbye forever!
Every random subway longing,
Every momentary crush on a store clerk or secretary or dental hygienist,
Every lillypad of doubt has helped me reach the river's other side.
It is so nice over here.
The grass is dewy and fresh.
Upon arrival they hand you a blanket and a paddleball set.
I want to stay in this place for a good long while.
And everywhere I go I tell my story,
In smiled silence or sometimes even with words.
"I have love!" I tell the Key Food cashiers, who blink back in boredom and don't care
and I don't care that they don't care.
Aboard the subway beggars ask me for change
And I say, "be the change you want to see in the world my good man,"
And they say, "please don't quote Gandhi to me that's really insensitive I'm starving,"
So then I apologize and say "I'm sorry I'm just a little giddy I'm having a really nice life
today" but I regret what I said so I give them like two dollars.
When I close my eyes it is her I see,
and I feel full like a helium balloon that may one day burst.
Hold on, let's try that again:
I feel like a pulsing land mine under a dirt mound, waiting to be found.
Wait, one more:
Y'know how at the state fair there'll be those jets and they're going really fast and almost
out of control and so there's always the chance that they will crash, and, that's
kind of what the spectators are secretly hoping for because it's spectacular and
those words "spectator" and "spectacular" both come from the same root?
Well that's how I feel—like a state fair airplane.
And you my new long-distance love are the corndog—
You are singular and specific and altogether unique.
I want to douse you in mustard and put you in my mouth.
I want to casually hold you in one hand and be the envy of all those walking by who are
dieting from love.
And I will laugh the laugh of immense recognition!
For I, too, have dieted—
Have spent the extended winter hunkered below in a bunker of isolation,
Fueled by internet pornography and then half an hour later, some more.
But now I radiate light!
My pheromones are fragrant.
I smell of the salt of summertime ocean—
Unless you prefer the peaks of mountaintops, in which case, I smell like those too!
So long, pining for unrequited love!
Hope you enjoyed May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
(god damn you December), January, and February—
For now it is March,
And so I do,
In the streets,
Like a mediocre high school band that's not actually very skilled at wielding its
individual instruments but is too excited to be part of the parade to care.
And the band's parents are all there!
As part of the town-wide crowd.
And they're the most proud.
Play on, piccolos!
Trill, you trumpets!
Flag girls, you're all doing a really great job. Keep it up!
Today of this new land I am sovereign, King!
Today I am the Midwest Midas!
Today everything I touch turns to nice, and immediately becomes ten pounds heavier.
Do not wonder why I am being so silly.
That is like asking why a dog chooses to lick its own genitals—
Because it can! Because it feels so goddamn good!
Clouds of the west? Back in the wings!
Death and decay? Just leave a voicemail, I'll call you back later.
Work-related stress? Yes, we know you're still there—nobody cares.
It is noon and I am thirty.
I am making my way in the world.
I close my eyes and wonder what the coffee shop culture is like in Illinois.
I close my eyes and wonder what the job situation is like in Illinois.
I close my eyes and wonder how and if and when I will ever say goodbye to Brooklyn
and begin somewhere else somewhere like Illinois.
In my mind I doubt I'll ever leave but on Saturday today I give myself permission to
close my eyes and open up some strange new fantasy, where I am in Illinois
working as a farm-hand, baling hay, stacking grain inside a silo, tilling the land
and telling tales upon a mosquito-repelling-candled porch at night, this imagery is
steeped in cartoonish stereotype but I am going with it, I have known this girl for
seven days and I am going with it, and now eyes open back here in Brooklyn on a
Saturday I count the twenty more days until I will see her again, so get out, doubt,
there's no place for you here, not now, not today, not when I am going with it,
and I am, O, I am so going with it, I am so going with it, I am so going with it...
This poem is the 2013 winner of the Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest sponsored by Winning Writers. Author Josh Lefkowitz received a cash prize of $1,000.
About Josh Lefkowitz
Josh Lefkowitz is a graduate from the University of Michigan, where he received the Hopwood Award for Poetry. His stories and poems have been published in numerous journals online and in print, including Conduit, The Rumpus, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, Freerange Nonfiction, Ohio Edit, and Open Letters Monthly. He has performed two autobiographical solo pieces—HELP WANTED: A Personal Search for Meaningful Employment at the Start of the 21st Century and NOW WHAT?—in theaters and spaces across the country. Additionally, Josh has recorded humorous essays for NPR's All Things Considered and for BBC's Americana. He received a Young Artist grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and an Associate Artist appointment from the Atlantic Center for the Arts. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, and has most recently completed his first full-length poetry manuscript, titled Women of New York!