Matthew Olzmann, "The Melting Pot In Housewares Has a Slight Crack"


by Matthew Olzmann

down the middle. I’m one-half something.

One part stained glass window. One part

three-hour infomercial. A crucifix hangs

in my chest like a heart. Chamber music.

One part mestizo. One part mezzanine.

I know where the checkout lane is.

Your mother spends and spends and spends.

My father says this to me.

He doesn’t understand how much I save him,

she replies on her cell phone.

Which floor is Kitchen Utensils? Which floor

is Lawn Care? Take a credit card and the escalator down.

Do you still go to church on Sundays?

my grandmother asks.

I say the word assimilation like a blade

of grass bending. Always bending. A hundred rows

of flickering TVs for newscasters to pronounce

immigration like a virus.

Here. In the theater of household

appliances, people see my brother and I and ask

which one is not like the others? Which floor

is Electronics? Which floor is Hardware?

Where’s a nail gun when you need one?

We’re standing between departments.

We were born in different strip malls,

both in America.

Yes. I know most of the Lord’s Prayer, how to hook

up a DVD player, how to disappear.

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