WHAT WE DO “Today it's going to cost us twenty dollars” --Gary Soto Either rip off cereal box coupons, or don’t, make note of how much milk is left, think about trying another substitute—almond milk maybe—walk to bus stop and find a quarter in the weeds, shiny, like it might have just been dropped; on the bus you remember you have to get a new headlight for the car, and fix the side panel that has come loose. You remember her face. They are out of local organic eggs so you buy some that are free run, but know you read somewhere that is not that great. The internet bill is due today and you pay it online by direct transfer. There is no other way to do it. When you get home the cat has knocked the open cereal box onto the floor and batted little pieces everywhere. As you sweep, you wonder if it is worth it to go out to get eggs and milk or stay home, and try a poem or two. You think of her, her face, the way she avoids your gaze, moves into forms.  

ON NERVOUSNESS

whining at the door of ridiculous requests

hoping that the rash is not related

stuttering on an explanation with no question

blabbering on about herbs and balloons

the century that can shatter the human myth

he leaned out the driver window with the wind taking his words

all the reasons are piled against the wall of the artery i keep forgetting the name of but it is an important one and in real life not at all the neat shape you see on hallmark cards and if i gush will i come clean will the toxins spill out into the river and kill fish eggs aorta it’s the aorta i am thinking of and it constricts when i say i love you but is it the climate my aging cells or true

writing and deleting the same message 44 times

writing a message and sending it but before you were ready

chest pains are a sign hung on the door saying ‘i am still here’

i tip over

  IF I WERE A MAN 1. The tip of my conscious gender would flinch 2. Time would stop for me, its marks and transitions swiveling to greet me; time as distance I am traveling toward 3. I would eat everything; toxins don’t scare me because I made them 4. My love of nature would know no bounds; it houses my ideas and feeds my urges to make accurate maps; I would travel the world and experience it all; I’d be open to new ideas, thrills, all the exotic has to offer 5. I would make lists to characterize gender; the constructions hardwired into my male hunter brain as I lumber across the land looking for sustenance, an animal to bring down 6. I would depend on semicolons to condition my thinking; it is like a binary flipside to everything I do 7. I would love women—not all women, some are down-right frightening— with every ounce of my being, revere their form and sure-footed wisdom 8. Numbers would be in my pocket 9. I would be to-the-point, upstanding, gentle, forgiving, generous—my abilities would be the world’s to have; I would be in the conditional future tense 10. If I were man imagining being a woman I’d try to be one of the guys, fit in and be cool; I’d leave behind that tortured past and just move on 11. My poems would be emotive, glimpses into the inner workings of the world, the human made tactile in the flick of image— a hawk espied on the horizon 12. I would love language, its access to thought and persuasive tenor; I would die without words, without pages of alphabetized props, without that paper-thin veil to hide my fear (she) that invades _____ Rob Budde teaches creative writing at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George. He has published seven books (poetry, novels, interviews, and short fiction), his most recent books being a collection of poetry titled Finding Ft. George (Caitlin Press 2007) and Declining America (BookThug 2010). Find him at writingwaynorth.blogspot.com.   Northern BC folio curated by Gillian Wigmore.