ditch,

the poetry that matters

Sean Patrick Hill

Sean Patrick Hill is a freelance writer, in Portland, Oregon. He earned his MA in Writing from Portland State University, where he won the Burnham Graduate Award. He received a grant from Regional Arts and Culture Council and residencies from Montana Artists Refuge, Fishtrap, and the Oregon State University Trillium Project. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Exquisite Corpse, elimae, diode, In Posse Review, Willow Springs, RealPoetik, New York Quarterly, Copper Nickel, Juked, Sawbuck, Redactions, and Quarter After Eight. He also is a blogger for Fringe Magazine. His blog site is theimaginedfield.blogspot.com.

Our Servants, the Robots

 

We had a robot that served drinks, or could but never did because its battery was dead. No one ever counted it in any unemployment figures far as I could tell. So it sat in the corner, useful as a supermodel. Same with the lobster trap, which was taking a temp job as our end table. Had it a mouth rather than a net, I’m sure it would have told fish tales over drinks the robot would have served had it been so charged. But we couldn’t be bothered. We were busy building a better bong. We named it Les, saying “Less is more, and more is Les.” Then we built a monument to unemployment, a pyramid of decommissioned microwave ovens that someone ended up throwing off the roof celebrating the election of ’92. Anyway, we had all fallen in love with an owl robot. It had a battery, but was a one-trick pony. It was more like a parrot, asking the same thing over and over, not nearly big enough to hold our six-pack. Naturally, the affair wore thin.

 

 
 

 

I Always Secretly Thought Freud An Idiot

 

I dreamed of a rattlesnake wrapped around the trunk of an oak tree. Not an ordinary rattlesnake, but one the size of a python. With the same easy-to-identify diamond-shaped markings on its back. This was in a state park of sorts. I noticed some picnic tables and thought, “Those picnic tables are a nice touch.” A couple of kitchen appliances sat in the grass: an oven, a refrigerator. On the refrigerator was a note written on loose-leaf paper. It read, A rattlesnake lives under the fridge. If you move it, do it quick. The dangling modifier confused me, as did the concept of dangling modifiers. I figured the snake, who had vanished, kept warm under the motor, making this a clever rattler. I was getting hungry. A big busload of kids showed up on some kind of field trip, all of them barefoot.

 

 

 

  

Why American Audiences Don’t Appreciate Variety Shows Any Longer

 

I dreamed Sonny and Cher had a daughter. They all went on tour, this massive production that rivaled Broadway and the 1936 Olympics for pure pomp. We were in an enormous warehouse. The show was all dynamo numbers and glitz, floats and mandatory audience participation. Someone brought out what should have been a paper dragon but instead turned out to be a yellow pig. People in the audience started leaving, their faces blank. An Indian put on his fedora, put his coat over his arm even as Sonny kept smiling and singing, waving his arms. No wonder he went into politics. I showed up for a rehearsal and realized I’d never be married to Sonny and Cher’s daughter. She was always performing. I looked out at the empty hall, big as an airplane hanger. How could so many people leave their coats behind? No wonder the show has so many costumes, I thought. In the distance, a janitor in a blue jumpsuit folded chairs. Somewhere in the back of my head, I heard the Fifth Dimension practicing their number-one hit, “Wedding Bell Blues.”

 

 

 

  

Kafkaesque

 

One morning I woke to discover I had been transformed into a commercial. All I could think about were marketing strategies in thirty-second increments. I fretted for hours in the bathroom over my packaging, and it drove my wife crazy. I’d been looking for work, but all I could get was a part-time job on The Price Is Right. I thought things might pick up at Christmas, but the economy being what it was people were buying inconsequential things like coffee mugs. One gig I applied for to teach film studies was offered to a tube of toothpaste. I lost a non-profit directorship to an aggressive box of Wheaties with family connections. I hoped the failing auto industry might allow some wiggle room, but the top spots went to Internet advertisements whose best quality was “Flash Animation.” I hired Wilford Brimley as my spokesman, which turned out to be a disaster. Potential customers tended to associate me with oatmeal fiber and life insurance. That’s when the nightmares about discount racks and dollar stores started. What’s worse, one day I found my head metamorphosed into one of those enormous billboards owned by Clear Channel.

 

  

  

 

 

Everyone Had the Nerve to Think the Art Teacher Did It

 

In high school I rocked out to Guns-n-Roses, when I could still ask for Appetite for Destruction for Christmas and annoy my parents with it until the following Christmas, when I would ask for The Doors instead—I’ll just go ahead and admit that I really did listen to The Doors. So one night a couple of friends and I bought or stole a can of white spray paint. At any rate, we went tagging the town. My friend Steve sprayed “Moon the Loon” under the bridge (a reference to Keith Moon if you didn’t know). My friend Greg, unimaginatively, painted a stop sign white. I wrote “Jim Morrison Lives” behind the high school along a speed bump. Jim Morrison made an anagram of his name: Mr Mojo Risin. I find it strange that it took nearly twenty years to realize Axl Rose was an anagram, too.

 

 

 

 

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