Contributor Update: Eric Gudas (Issue 67)

945 Pecan Place

Since ten you’ve been standing behind a cash register, passing vermicelli,               skim milk, chicken breasts, and bottles
Of carbonated water over the scanner’s secret red eye. “Will that be ATM               or credit? Would you like a bag?” Before noon
An embalmed-looking woman, her nails lacquered purple, held up your
line asking for “a small bag of cat litter–
You’ve only got the large ones.” This Sunday afternoon squeaks by on a   conveyer belt, counted out in pennies and clammy nickels;
Wan sunlight across the asphalt and squashes’ lichen green are the colors          you survive on while the clock’s minute hand
Twitches, stuck, at 1:32. Back home, I gulp down toaster waffles and      lukewarm coffee, not even changing
Out of yesterday’s socks, caught in a paperback Trollope’s sticky pages.            Will Violet Effingham marry “comely” Phineas
Or the red-bristled reprobate, Lord Chiltern? I jerk the silver band up to             my knuckle and back, the letters
Of our names stamped inside it collecting sweat and tiny bits of skin.                   Our names are also printed on the checks
We wrote all yesterday afternoon: $68.74 to Pacific Bell, $45 to Sutter     Medical, etc.; now our bank account is empty
As Griffin’s water dish. After I fill it up, he runs over to drink in one long,    barely-punctuated slurp, then ambles off,
Leaving a trail of drool-drops. On the day-long drive home from our        wedding, he lay crammed in the backseat
With the luggage, barely able to stretch his legs. By Ashland, bored as he         was, we started singing interstate ditties—
“There goes a gas station, here comes a cow”; after a while we petered off         into silence, Redding and the flatlands still
Hours ahead. The next day I squatted in the driveway to scrape a thick           layer of squashed bugs from the fender
With a toothbrush. Was it only four months ago? The vastness of our     lives—our life —pools about me till it seems
We have spent years in this run-down suburban house, our paychecks            never lasting long enough, too tired most nights
To do any more than hold each other in the dark, while Griffin wheezes plaintively. But love, common
As the oranges on our neighbors’ tree, spreads half-unseen beneath,           around us, even as you stand waiting
For the credit card authorization to pass along hundreds of miles of         telephone line, your eyes fixed on the stacked
Shopping baskets, while I sit folding laundry in the bedroom, impatient             for your worn-out footsteps at the door.

Eric Gudas’ “945 Pecan Place” first appeared in Issue 67 of the minnesota review. Since that issue was published in 2006, Gudas has published Best Western and Other Poems, winner of the 2008 Gerald Cable Book Award, and is currently working on a book about Eleanor Ross Taylor’s life and poetry, Divided Allegiances, which is under contract with the University of Virginia Press. His poems, book reviews, and interviews with American poets have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, The Iowa Review, Poetry Flash, The Southern Review, and other journals.  Gudas holds a doctorate in English from UCLA and he and his wife, Alyssa Sherwood, live with their daughter in Los Angeles. You can learn more about Gudas and his work at: http://www.ericgudas.com/Home.html

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