The Love Song of Jay and Ally Ruefolk

 “Controllate che il laccio di plastica sia avvolto in modo
che la fibbia grande sia verso l'esterno. Se la fibbia e rivolta
in dentro, girate il laccio in senso opposto prima di inserire
la criniera del leone. (Fig. 7) del foglio di istruzioni incluso."

Let's get going now, okay?
While the car is warming up in the driveway
Like someone getting over bypass surgery.
C'mon, let's go, through certain orange-barreled roads
Before our reservations
Are canceled, and my deep-fried oysters, too.
Traffic that's just an impediment
Of no particular intent
Tweaks me with an overwhelming question,
"D'd'ya turn off the coffeemaker?"
"Oh, well, the babysitter'll see it."

In the rooms the children come and go
Eating their dripping tangelos.

The sulking kid who rubs his hot-dog on the TV screen,
And then adds catsup, smearing it on the TV screen,
Tongued the TV screen, for God knows why,
Then lost his balance, falling on his back;
Ran up screaming, made a sudden leap,
And seeing suddenly his older brother,
Curled once around his feet, and gently cooed.

Indeed, my Love, there will be time
For movie previews exploding on the screen.
There will be time for mixed clips full of love,
Or lack of love, crazed buses on the run,
Or cute kids' films, but mostly crappy pap
Churned out by Hollywood to fill our time.
There will be time, there will be time to record
The sitcoms that we later want to see.
Time for you, and time for me, but mostly
Time for those two so blessedly not here.

In the rooms the children come and go
Eating their dripping tangelos.

For we've endured them all already, known them all,
Endured the sleepless nights, the babies throwing spoons,
We have measured out our lives in Disney 'toons;
I see the gas gauge leaning toward the red
And lighting up the gas pump on my dash--
So should we now turn off?

And we have known the bill collectors, known them all,
The ones who pin you with their formulated phrases,
And when I'm formulated, sputt'ring on the phone,
When I am almost apoplectic on the phone,
Then how should I begin
To pay off all the creditors of our days and ways?
And should I even presume?

I should have been a high-priced Wall Street lawyer
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoons, the evenings pass so crazily!
Smeared by sticky fingers...
Awake... tired... but he malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should we, after changing his wet diaper,
Put him to bed and risk a temper tantrum?

No! I am not Mike Brady, nor was meant to be.
I’m an all right Dad, a help around the house,
Deferential, glad to bathe a baby,
Broke, unlike Mr. Brady and his bunch,
But at least meticulous (I have to be).
Full of good intentions, but a bit high strung,
Climbing a Sisyphean ladder
From the bottom rung.

I grow old... I grow old...
I shall eat my beanie weenie cold.

"Did we miss the Exit, Sweet?
Should we take another street?
We shall miss the previews, and search the darkened room."

"At least we won't have arrived too soon."

We're almost there, a little rushed, perhaps,
With that damn traffic, and rain, in sleety drops
That in this city never seem to stop.

We won't linger looking at the gaudy art
That leads us to our waiting, empty seats
Where teenage voices twitter, settling down.

by Matt Birkenhauer

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Matt Birkenhauer teaches English at Northern Kentucky University's Grant County Center, with an emphasis on Composition and Rhetoric. He lives in Ludlow, KY, with his wife and two sons. In his free time, he likes to read, write poetry, spoof politics and religion (TheSpoof.com), and spend time with Ann, his lovely Nymph of thirty-eight years.