Saturday, April 25, 2015

Day 22-ish: The Saturday Degenerates Club


The Saturday Degenerates Club

From one to four they gather,
the same twelve grey heads
perched on bodies crammed together,
bent over two tiny tables
in the corner of the grocery store
right next to the liquor.
Fingers curl around red wine
in plastic cups, fifty cents a pour.
I’ve seen them in town,
where they shuffle, putter,
babble about grandkids,
disappear into themselves
from forty years ago.
But here they chuckle and hop,
jab elbows and swear,
exchange sex jokes and
complain about their kids.
One looks up and smirks,
winks at a twenty-something
who purses her lips and looks away
from the old men who refuse
to act their age.
I stand by my cart and watch,
smile and shake my head,
slip my phone in my pocket,
and sip my own escape.
I love seeing people act differently from what I expect of them.  Sometimes this means acting kindly when I expect a more directly selfish action.  Other times, it means seeing my expectations of age or gender or any -ism I didn't even realize I still had in me turned on its head.
In this poem, the manifestation is a group of elderly ladies and gentlemen who gather for every wine tasting at the local Kroger.  They seem to relish the moment, the escape from living as parents and grandparents to just enjoy the company of friends and wine.
I worked to frame the poem in a way that avoided judgment, positive or negative, focusing instead on the movement and images, both of the watchers and the watched.  The final couplets serve also to reveal the boundaries around my own time out there, using the cart and the phone as symbols of duty surrounding the moment.

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