Jeffrey Hecker was born in 1977 in Norfolk, Virginia. He’s the author of Rumble Seat (San Francisco Bay Press, 2011) & the chapbooks Hornbook
(Horse Less Press, 2012), Instructions for the Orgy (Sunnyoutside Press, 2013), & Before He Let Them Guide Sleigh (ShirtPocket Press, 2013). Recent work has appeared in Mascara Literary Review, Atticus Review, La Fovea, Zocalo Public Square, The Burning Bush 2, LEVELER, Spittoon & similar:peaks. He holds a degree from Old Dominion University. He resides with his wife Robin.
Ugly: Bad: Good
Ugly: sunscreen melted in fish cooler. Bad: you ate flounder before anyone
ascertained empty tube. Good: restaurant’s galley kitchen isn’t visible
from booth #38 Ugly: previous booth #38 diner sealed a split in vinyl seat
using medical gauze. Bad: a woman is hiding under table. Good: it’s your Ma,
excited to see you, been more than 3 years. Ugly: Ma’s covered with Band-
Aids. She unpeels skin—the rip makes the bartender quit. Bad: nothing
physically wrong with Ma, except all the alcoholics are mad at her. Good:
everybody may drive home safe tonight. Ugly: Gail Borden IV (unrelated to
industrial tycoon) runs in to say interstate’s infrastructure failed. Bad: the high-
way shattered into billions of trapezoid briquettes unsuitable even for grilling.
Good: Ma owns this restaurant. Everyone must remain here forever in order
to eat. Ugly: All the alcoholics are mad at her. She’s just passing through
Menopause’s sticker fetish. Bad: there’s another woman under booth #38.
Actually, a dozen. Good: neither aunts nor sisters—watching each emerge
makes you want to order cold beverages. Ugly: ice machine is broken. Bad:
they’re all alcoholics, bringing the population to 87. Good: bartender’s back.
His moped couldn’t traverse pavement hunks. Ugly: it’s your Ma, no longer
enamored at you observing life. It’s going on 4 years. Bad: everybody sober
who ate fish in line for the bathroom. Good: a secret escape hatch gleams
beneath booth #38. Ugly: that doesn’t mean it goes anywhere good, or Bad:
leads outside into uncertainty and chaos. Good: uncertainty and chaos.
Your house is on fire.
You have time to save the baby and the dog.
The dog saves the baby and herself.
You now have more time to preserve Mom’s photo and a manuscript.
Extra originals you entrusted to a cousin’s attic.
Both also exist as copies in various formats, tif, gif, png, pdf, doc, docx, several at work.
It’s not 1915.
Why hasn’t the pet returned for you?
Actually, what’s inside here that shames you?
What ought to smolder but might not if red engines arrive soon to water down everything?
This rug chafes.
You haven’t polished your Cantabrian albarca shoes since your postman’s wedding.
Invited via Spanish-embossed letter, you weren’t blackmailed to attend, it just felt that way.
Your tablet device develops grill marks.
Should you preserve antique lamp shade or sentimental bucket hat?
The microwave is attached to the stove.
They used to be separate when you were growing up.
The baby is outside clapping in the small rubber summer pool.
The baby’s toys and the baby’s clothes all safe.
Already washed and dried.
The baby is not urinating for once.
That Alaskan Malamute is selectively astonishing.
Are you prepared to become a better earthling?