The good kind of parasitism

Under the sweaters of other peoples’ moms
Bellies made of bagpipes
You say under your breath
To God, I guess:
God get me out of this arts and crafts store
But the arts and crafts store is where you work
And getting out of there would come at the opportunity cost
Of seven dollars an hour.
Under sweaters,
Under breath,
Heat.

Or in the bulging vein
On the forehead of the bartender in the black and white movie
Who is wearing a soiled apron
And rubbing out tumblers with a cloth
The way black and white bartenders do when business is slow
Purple blood sloshes like blueberry juice.
You are with me on the couch
On the screen
Paul Newman is playing pool.
In the tips of your fingers on my leg
Electricity is not only conducting
But also mediating something more complex.
In veins,
In fingertips,
Blood,
Me.

When tomorrow you eat your sandwich
When you are microwaving it in the break room
In a failing attempt to melt its cheese
When you are really just making the cheese sweat
In a grandfather-in-the-garden sort of way,
Or when you are standing at the register
Looking out through the tinted windows toward the parking lot
The tinted windows that save hundreds a year on air conditioning
The tinted windows that make the benign blue sky
Look like a swirling tempest,
Tomorrow when you have a moment
Think of carrots in dog food
Think of plumbers at yacht shows
And in this vain
Think of us
And rest assured
That we won’t die soon,
Nor will it take too long.

- Eric Arnold