David J. Thompson
Not To Bother
Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man came on
the car radio. He turned up the volume,
said, This is a perfect song, isn’t it?
When she didn’t respond, he asked her
what the hell she was so pissed about.
Pissed? she practically screamed.
We go to a party with my friends
and you sit moping on the couch
by yourself all night talking to their dog
and you want to know why I’m pissed?
He hesitated, started to scratch his head,
said softly, I told you I didn’t want to go
in the first place. All you guys ever do
is talk about work and how you hate
your jobs and your stupid ass bosses
and I never know what to say. She told him
that was all bullshit. That he didn’t even try.
Dylan was still singing about disappearing
through the smoke rings of his mind
when he hit the blinker, turned into
a gas station a few blocks from their place.
Why are we stopping here? she asked wearily.
He told her he needed a 6-pack, asked
if he should leave it running. She said
not to bother. As he walked away, he realized
he was singing softly to himself about dancing
beneath the diamond sky with one hand
waving free, but when he looked up now,
all he saw was darkness.
Funny To Me Now
Let’s go see this new guy Jesus,
my girlfriend said looking up
from her laptop, before he sells out
and gets too commercial. He’s doing
a show up in the mountains today.
Sounds good, I replied, and we grabbed
a frisbee and our backpacker bong
and headed out for the hills.
Way more crowded than we expected,
we missed the warm-up act altogether,
spread our blanket out so far back
that it was really hard to hear.
People were selling bumper stickers
and t-shirts, you know, the usual shit,
and some Boy Scouts were ripping people off,
cans of Coke for like 3 bucks a piece,
but I didn’t see anybody selling food.
A guy next to us in a Black Sabbath t-shirt
said he heard it was because a union dispute
about working on Sundays.
Anyhow, after a few hours you could feel
the crowd getting restless, like waiting
for Leonard Skynyrd to do Freebird.
A guy who looked like Jerry Garcia stood up
and yelled, Hey, Jesus, we’ve all got the munchies.
How about one of your miracles which we’ve heard
so much about? That made everybody laugh,
including the son of God himself, who then
pointed toward a silver stepvan that had appeared
out of nowhere with a big sign that read
Sea of Galilee Fish Sandwiches back on the slope
near the parking lot where some guys were playing hackysack.
Everyone immediately forgot about our Savior
and started to mob the food truck, but it was like
eveybody’s acid kicked in at the same time,
and without any lines or waiting or paying
we all were handed a huge fish sandwich
on a hoagie roll with lettuce and tomatoes
and the most delicious oily sauce I’ve ever tasted.
After we ate and waited to use the porta-johns
(seems like even Jesus can’t provide enough of those things),
we all sat back down and Jesus went back
to preaching, but after about the third Blessed are
I nudged my girlfriend and we packed up, then joined
a growing stream of people trying to beat the traffic
by sneaking out early. It’s funny to me these days,
how Jesus became so popular and what those
Roman bastards did to him, but now all I remember
about that afternoon really is those fish sandwiches,
how satisfying and goddamn delicious they were.
David J. Thompson is a former prep school teacher and coach. He grew up in Hyde Park, NewYork, and currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His new book, GraceTakes Me, is available from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. Please visit his photo website at ninemilephoto.com.