(Lagniappe) Jeffrey Zable





but I was out and about today, marveling at how many people
were out and about along with me. Then I thought about how
many people must be in this city in general at this very moment.
and from there I tried to imagine how many people must be in the
state, the country, and finally the world. And trying to imagine all
the people in the world, I realized that everyone needed to eat and
wash themselves once in a while so that they didn’t get sick. Then
I realized that for all of these people to exist someone had to bring
them here, which of course means a mother and at least some semblance
of a father, and that people bring people into the world usually with
the idea of making themselves happy and possibly with the hope that
some of these people will take care of them when they get very old,
which is what I did for my father when he could no longer take care
of himself, and what I’m doing now for my mother. And thinking
about all this ultimately made me sad because I felt more poignantly
than ever the realization that I was going to die in the not so distant
future, intensified by the realization that so many of my family members
are now gone, and that the ones who are still around give me little
comfort with the exception of my wife and the little dog next door,
who isn’t a family member, but who always wags her tail into a blur
when she sees me, like I’m the greatest person who ever lived. . .







On the streetcar heading downtown everyone looked
like some kind of animal. One was a vulture,
another an armadillo, another a chimpanzee.
Turning to the pit bull next to me I asked,
“Have you ever been to war?” and he answered,
“I am always at war. I kill for the thrill of it.
Hem was correct when he said that war brings out
the best in us!”
Moving to another seat, I couldn’t tell what kind
of animal was sitting next to me.
“I’m a hybrid,” she answered. “Mother was a cockroach
and father was a giraffe!”
I was about to ask how they did it, when the hippo driver
announced that the streetcar was broken
and that everyone would have to walk from there.
And even on the street everyone looked like some kind
of animal, whereas I remained the same,
a lonely guy in a world that seldom made any sense.








There was all this money, and I didn’t know what to do with it
so I went to the park and found an area that had a lot of gopher holes.
I stuffed as much as I could down each of the holes until all I had left
was enough to fill both of my front pockets.
As I was getting ready to leave, a gopher popped out and said,
“Thanks mister. Now I can go to McDonald’s and eat like a king!”
To which I responded, “If you think that eating at McDonald’s
is eating like a king, I believe you are saved!”
And as I was walking down the street I realized once again
that everything is relative.
Here I thought I had too much money for my own good,
and tried to assuage my guilt by getting rid of most of it.
With that I walked into a Kentucky Fried Chicken establishment
and ordered a whole box of drumsticks,
ate every one of them,
put the bones in a configuration that spelled out my name
and walked back out into the street
feeling like I had come to a complete understanding
between my self, God, and the universe. . .







How a couple of days ago an ant was crawling across the keyboard
of my computer, and not wanting to hurt him
I put my finger down so he could crawl onto it.

As soon as he had done so, I got up and quickly walked to the front door,
but by the time I’d opened it I could no longer find him.
I searched my arm but couldn’t find him anywhere.
Thinking he probably dropped onto the floor,
I went back to the computer and the poem I was working on.

Then this morning, I took out my phone book to give the service guy
at San Francisco Toyota my cell number because I’d forgotten it.
There smashed on the page was an ant just below my phone number.
After looking at him for a moment, I brushed him off the page
and gave my number to the guy to put into his computer.

And as I walked away I tried to recall if I’d put my hand
into my pocket any time after I’d let the ant crawl onto my finger
but as hard as I tried I couldn’t remember doing so.

I started to feel sad that the ant had died like that,
and given that he was right below my cell phone number
it felt like some kind of omen.

I didn’t tell anyone about this, not even my wife,
with whom I’ve shared a lot of personal experiences…






Take the little dog next door for instance who wags her tail
so fast when she sees me that it almost becomes a blur.
And then I shout out, “Shooky, what are you doin’!”
even though that isn’t her real name,
but the one I’ve given her,
as well as the name I’ve given to most of the animals I like,
and sometimes to little children as well.
What a feeling I had this morning when Shooky and I locked eyes,
and she showed her appreciation of me,
unlike anything I’ve ever known from another human being,
reminding me that there’s no greater feeling than being loved like this
and it always makes me feel that there’s still beauty and wonder
in the world, even though a lot of the beauty and wonder
is found among creatures that don’t speak the same way we do,
or walk around full of their own self importance. . .




Jeffrey Zable

Jeffrey Zable‘s poetry, fiction, and non-fiction has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Over forty years later, he still gets a ‘kick’ out of writing; maybe now so more than ever so. Recent writing in, or forthcoming, in Tower Journal, Buddy, Corvus, Fear of Monkeys, Ordinary Madness, After the Pause, Tigershark, First Literary Review, Futures Trading, Third Wednesday and many others.