Under thirteen stars and a pearly slice
of moon, the buttoned-down pink-skinned minions
of Cincinnati billabong tread

water at their desks for another day.
Happy shackles of good money and monster
benefits clink in the cafeteria

while ladies’ smiles bloom in ads on soaps
for anti-rash and squeaking suds, dishes
smug with luster, shoulder snow condemned

to die in showery battles with the bottle.
Despite this kicking chorus line of clean,
all is never well or well enough: old

and unimproved, lives will end on darkest
dusty shelves, sclerotic and confused,
bitter being spurned by those once full

of raw desire. A goose can be cooked
in as many worthy ways as a cat skinned.
So someone has to venture out, to seek

and find another way, to waste not want
not around the infant middle. Gather,
maintain, offload goo. Hold pee for a price.

You took the charge and lived it well, flying
to Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur,
by rickshaw and longboat and tuk-tuk

you toured, by smoked glass taxi and bathtub
snorkeling you sweated, tethered to HQ
by the bilbo of E-mail and laptop,

calls home to the wife and sometimes kids, church
services in strange languages. Women
stuffed Luvs in factories blessed by Buddha,

pulp for Pampers thinned forests of their snaky
poisons. It’s not a cure for cancer but
it’s not cancer. You drunk free flying home.