Ode to 7-Eleven

Beyond Baroque

Ode to 7-Eleven

How are you tonight, 7-Eleven? with your smell
of departure and annoyance, your white bread, your drain cleaners,
your puddings, your cockroaches fanning out over the parking lot
like glossy marzipan soldiers lugging fearsome shadows.
It must be lovely to watch for dawn
coming over the EverTrust Bank and the Chevron station,
it must be trying
for the lively man with the turban (sales associate #33323)
to hang out with the seven moving objects of the sky,
the eleven ounces of the heart
and the sturdy sixteen-year-olds
picking their noses by the soda fountain.
7-Eleven—benign, broad-minded firebrand of night—
the great inward journey begins with you,
inexhaustible Christmas of green red orange   HELP
WANTED    Do we think we understand you, 7-Eleven?  How sweet
the industrious freezer, the implacable milk,
the pounds of glaze, fritters, muffins,
“freedom of choice,” Hispanic, Hmong, Chinese,
the painful joy of brainfreeze,
10,000 pots of coffee for Tarzana
apotheosis of the hot-dog-loving state
that stares at Popular Mechanics and Soap Opera Weekly
when all at once a man looks up, catches
his own image timid in the window
and a girl examining her nails in an idling van     HELP
and beyond that a string of bungalows and porches
and flagrant Union 76 balls     WANTED
from here all the way to Downey, Bell Gardens, City of Industry,
past where the freight trains jangle and yelp
though perhaps no one can say for sure where they’re headed
or what they’re freighted with.

This poem originally appeared in The Cider Press Review

The Pleasures of Relinquishment

Seven pounds of shame were shed today
and Mom’s delighted to be slim once more.
(The cries got weaker as they died away.)

Lightness! Litheness! Now a chance to stray
to where they didn’t know her name before
the seven pounds of shame were shed today.

No mouth, no raucous summons to obey,
she will be rid for life of all that furor
(The cries got weaker as they died away.)

Perhaps there’s time to see a matinee,
freed from what she struggled to ignore.
Seven pounds of shame were shed today.

Find a bar and worlds will start to sway:
the thing was just a lonely visitor
(whose cries got weaker as they died away).

“No. Mustn’t dwell or say the word ‘betray’”—
she knows the German couple will adore
the seven pounds of shame she shed today.
(The cries got weaker. Then they died away.)

This poem originally appeared in The Comstock Review

Nine Hundred Thousand Legs to Waterloo

Drab fury of trains.
Three hundred and forty-four thousand bodies
are being pressed into the Underground.
There are severe delays on the Picadilly Line.
There is a good service on all other lines.
and men and women rushing toward
men and women, a few falling.
Not one face like yours
and liquid Prozac on my jeans,
stains, stickiness. Warmth
of forty-four thousand travelers.
Eddie Jay Santos:
your brown skin
your young hands,
you did not like your hands.
Please keep your belongings safe.
The fine eyebrows and teeth.
Pickpockets operate at this station.
The steady, noxious watchfulness
of the surveillance cameras,
my jeans stained with Prozac,
juicy and pleasant.
Fifty thousand five hundred bodies
collected and expectant.
Would customers please use
the full length of the platform
to avoid congestion at the platform entrances.
Samoans with British accents:
it shouldn’t be allowed,
they should be speaking Samoan
or regular American.
There are severe delays on the Picadilly Line.
There is a good service on all other lines.
Six thousand people reading about knife crime.
Eddie:  you left
and you never left.
The free paper says Pakistani youths
fight with knives.
Seventy-five thousand men, women and animals
are fighting
to reach Leicester Square.
Eddie: twice nearly expelled
from Hollywood High
for fighting.
A hundred bodies packed
into a single “carriage.”
Several grey men hunger
for a fragrant South Asian.
Your tattooed, hard arms
your stubby little hands.
This is Westminster.
Please change here for the Circle Line
and the District Line.
Your fresh-smelling t-shirts
your cologne
your rugged tattoo soaking up
my spinster sperm.
Another tunnel.
Americans should not say “cheers”
when they mean “thank you”!
The next tunnel is terribly smelly.
Travelers can’t stop looking
at a Turk.
The smelly tunnel leads
to a long, smelly tunnel.
Please stand to the right
when using the escalators.
Eddie Jay: your naïve, unkind face
your thumbs efficient and alive
on your little keypad.
and wind.
Any unattended bag
or other item of luggage
will be removed
and may be destroyed.
And not one grey hair
skin around your eyes alarmingly fresh
your lips and tongue hardworking
on my nipples—
if you had charged three hundred a night
I would’ve paid you
I would pay three hundred
for a single word from you now. . .
This is a security announcement.
Eight hundred and one
stale, stiff people
are trying to rush for their trains
in the warm wind
in the narrow white passageways
under London.


Act I

This is how her hands emerge to birth sonatas
tangled, scandalous as daybreak.
“I hate waiting for him, and the knots.”
She’s learned to sway, sway, watching strife from windows,
trying not to count the hours—“No one beautiful here at all”—
amidst the tasteful blue of a Parisian etiquette
made from too much fuss and cutlery,
too much freezing.  “No one’s called, madame.”
She goes over to her harp
as if to pray.

Act II

Such whiteness and such waiting knotted into hatred!
She hates him for his beauty, she hates the waste
of beauty, knotted arms, student thighs.
And she plays on:
andantes give her parlor hands a thing or two to do
before they’re bruised and sore with overplucking.
The butler ushers in the “gentleman” and sighs, retreats.
Fabrice, fresh from a masked ball at Countess C.’s! Fabrice,
sullen and plebeian, rushes to undo her etiquette completely,
scoops up—from deep beneath the snowscape—the chalice,
the full cathedral, of her cry.


Moonlight arctic as a harp recital:
what a waste of hatred, what knotty wasted hands,
eyelids fragmented and grandmotherly
that receive the florid apathy of walls and portraiture,
last arpeggios, gems.
“He told me he would come back.”
Now her life is voices from another parlor,
doors that lead to steps that lead to snow mist,
silk and nothing.
A church clock claims it’s midnight:
in her mind she climbs and climbs. Where possible
she plays in C-sharp minor, a key of steam and steep religion.
Bits of him are dripping from the chimes.

This poem originally appeared in Wordriver

© Copyright 2012-2019. Alex M. Frankel.  All Rights Reserved.

3 thoughts on “Poems

  1. “The Pleasures of Relinquishment” and “Real Resume” should be bundled together as a masterpiece. It happens quite often that the people we work with are really unknown to us. I’m glad I had an opportunity to find out a little more about you.

  2. Dear Alex: I wrote you at the email address of Second Sunday, but no go.
    So I’m trying this one. I plan to attend June 8 with Alice Azmar again and
    will bring my two latest books to read from. Thanks for the opportunity to meet a new audience. I enjoyed hearing my friend Radomir last time and especially the superb drummer! The dance film was interesting also. Thanks, Morgan Gibson

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