Fortune Cookies: Poems by Andrew Cox


The siren on top of the pole in our neighborhood goes off and we are told to go to the basement and if we don't have a basement, to go to a small central room and if we don't have a small central room, to abandon mobile homes and if we don't have a mobile home to abandon, to flatten ourselves in a ditch and cover our heads and if we have lost our heads, we are probably safe though the instructions don't cover this because instructions don't cover everything.


She says try this salad dressing and I say I don't like that salad dressing I like this salad dressing and she says I should be more willing to try different things and I say, yes, I should, even though she is not a queen delivering a monologue about having lost her salad days and I go downstairs to the basement to build things no one uses.


I am tired of hanging out with people my own age: I want to retire and rock on a porch in a small town in the middle of the prairie. I want to take my shoes off and play in the sandbox with the others. I want to lay rubber in the parking lot at the local hangout. I want to look up into my mother's eyes as she changes my diapers. I want to be the grandmother you love, the one who lives in the basement because that's where your parents want her to live.


The de-clawed cat that lives in the basement paws the door to get out. He wants out. He paws. He does not escape. But sometimes we open the door and he glides out to perch on top of the couch and stares out the window at the birds and he purrs.

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