Bloated Pointer

The following three poems were written by me in October 2021, and wound up landing me a finalist position in the Bennington Young Writers competition. The first two are somewhat autobiographical; the first combined experiences I had during the first few months of my job at the only bookstore left in Naples, FL; the last includes details of a conversation I had with my mom during my 16th December. The second is inspired by Craigslist's missed connections, and mimics its mobile format. I'm not totally into them anymore. The thought was there, it's here, but I'm above all I'm a shabby layman.


Organizing the shelves and catching sight of Winn-Dixie. 
Stabilizing a stack of cards in my hands: "Have you seen my dog?"
I have not.
"I'm losing my memory."
He raises his voice and he's not angry at me. "I'm losing my memory,
it's getting worse. Have you seen my dog?"
I have not, but I want to. I think of my own. The dogs are just dogs;
I’m not giving everything to poetry. I want to see the dog more than ever. 
I don't know how to respond to the man's anger,
so I don't. I tell him where he can find books on dogs. He says 
"I already ordered one, my last name is the same as yours. My memory's getting 
worse, I can't tell it to you."
His dog's name is Jimmy. Maybe Jimi. "He who supplants."
The book title says something about taming, the author is 
someone English and we look at each other, bored. I take it out of its order
slip. "My memory's not that good, what's the book called?"
I tell him I don't remember either. A visual mind,
he remembers the cover. He pays in cash and I have to ask him to
take his change. He looks angry again, pauses for the receipt,
and says his memory is getting worse. He's in his fifties. He knows
what this all leads to. I shift my weight from one foot to another 
then set my hands on my side of the counter and shift onto those
wrists. I think I admire him.
He knows all about it. He isn't ignoring it. He's feeding it.
That's probably dangerous. I'm still shifting my weight, dulled
and thinking about the dog. Couldn't tell if he meant the
book or if he really had a dog somewhere in the stacks. He was losing
his memory, he hasn't lost it, so I decide there is nothing
in the stacks and we are back to being a dog-free store.
But, I prefer company;

I ignore the idea the dog's not there.
Coworker slides by, murmurs "did he say he had 
a dog? He didn't leave with one.." He has one but it's not here,
he was after a book he ordered. "Bought online or held?"
Held, he paid in cash. I had to remind him to take his change. You
probably heard that too, he was going on about how he was losing his 
memory. "Yeah, happens often here. You live in a retirement town 
now, you'll get used to it. I had to help a full amnesiac, I sat him down 
in the cafe and fed him and his wife came and sobbed. She'd thought 
she'd lost him. Like I said, it happens often." His dog's name was Jimi.
"Jimmy? That's the name of the full amnesiac. He was pretty, too."
Formalities aside, now we're standing register by register. 
New Man walks up, I'm stabilizing order forms with my hands: "I'm looking 
for something to plagiarize." I suggest the autobiographies. 
A dog barks and I finally decide to take my medication. 
"Where are the autobiographies?" With a frown I say
You already know they're across from
comparative religion and the dog, we named him Jimmy. 
His body toward the shelf, this New Man says "I had a husband named Jimi.
I'm sure the dog's better than him."
I agree but don't say so, and get cut by another order form.

          I DOUBT YOU EVEN USE THIS SITE but I'm desperate, I have to try

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Guy with red knuckles near the Shell station, 
I think it was 9:13pm (Tollgate)

I'd just bought a cola and the  vending machine sent
it crashing, we both jumped at the noise and I asked
if you were  alright. Your  eyes were  red, I  think you 
were high and crying but I want to know if I’m wrong.
You had a leather  jacket,  scuffed to hell, and  wore
work boots I'm still jealous of. Yr wife-beater bore a 
Tom of  Finland piece, and  I was amazed  by you. I 
was just amazed. Let me be corny, I don't get much 
out  of  this.  You  got  on  the  bus  headed  for 
Homosassa  and I went into the bathroom to  laugh, 
and  tried  to  vandalize  with  that  same  piece now 
borne on my brain. If you're reading this, please tell 
me  what  you  said  about  the  Book of  Revelation. 

    do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

          She said 'Elegy,' not Eulogy 

I wonder to the man next to me
why our boyhood was robbed from us. 
He cocks his head
and fingers headphone wires
and says 'I don't understand.' 
I say that
sometimes a girl runs away 
from her family's house. I say
that's a common image, you know that one. 
I say sometimes I am that house—
' weren't you that girl?'

-and I was that girl,
I watched myself leave
but no boy could come back. 
The years were over
and my family stayed too narrow. 
My walls could do little but 
bear the nails holding
outdated photos, lined in neat rows,
sagging on account of my cheap foundation. 
I don't let myself look at those photos 

I know I wouldn't love them. 
You didn't have a boyhood either.
but I never call what I was a girl.'

I think about the doors of the house 
that can be me. I think of the hallways
and the pretty men that would rock
on the balls of their heels, waiting
for their neighbor to hang up the phone
and tell them why there was a cow's
grave out front 
and a trench out back. 
I think about how mom sweetly said 
you should name yourself Elegy 
when I was 16 and it was December.
I think about how after I left 
the house she bought a gravestone
and wrote her girl's name on it.
I turned to the man and told him
'I stole my name from a grave. It was easy. Somehow
he had the same last name, and somehow he died on
the same year I've been seeing above my head since
I just hope mom plants the stone,
because maybe a girl my inverse
will do exactly the same.'