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Duggan & McKee – August 2020

Paul McKee and Teresa Duggan traded art and words. Teresa shared this image, titled “Fry City,” with Paul:

In response, Paul wrote this poem:


Two blue – one red
during an otherwise quiet afternoon she had stuffed
over thirty bags of cotton candy
some blue – some red
spider webs of molten sugar spitting everywhere
stuck her eyelids shut

Not much bigger than a camper trailer served as
work station
accounting office
break room
it took only two shifts to realize a completely
separate wardrobe would be necessary
with the spider web shit sticking to everything

Ignoring customers got easier after week five
sweltering heat exacerbating the smell of grease
boiling cramped quarters

Plenty of room in the mind’s eye for
the clear water of a koi pond
sipping margaritas with handfuls of crushed ice
a long train horn in the distance – leaving

Swollen feet made it difficult to properly
tie sneakers each morning
heading to breakfast in time for an eleven-o-clock opening
a long shower to kick start the day
more effective than brown-water coffee
a quick shower before bed would wash away most of the spider shit when
the policy of “one shower per-day – per-staff” was forgiven
no one questioned the perk for the cotton candy caddies

Whatever happened to that teenaged dream,
the wedding at Rotary Park,
working in an office with Uncle Norm,
horseback riding on weekends?

Quiet mornings shattered by
roller coaster test runs
deep-fry spatter
that hip-hop noise from the bouncy castle
so loud the children screaming for lemonade
could barely be heard

From time to time the cash float was out by eight dollars (exactly)
either corporate was testing them – or the head cashier was skimming.
Either way, the shift-start count was critical.

Once upon a time, the slow sunset meant boardwalk strolls
sipping light beer during soft spoken chats
watching the moon rise

In the Funnel Cake cabin
sunset brought on
the stench of barf beside the carousel,
greasy diesel generators
an air that wouldn’t move
boiled in smoky vegetable fat for corn dogs
from the trailer next door.

* * * * *

Paul shared this poem with Teresa:

Sunday Spin

A quiet Sunday afternoon
mother’s mother’s grandchildren
who would do no wrong
             quiet – too quiet
mother about her motherly duty
dinner or some such thing that
             would the truth be known about
             reasons for the quiet, quiet adventure
sharpened nails on blackboard
would quake to know mother’s wrath
The eldest should have known better
while knew enough about the forces of gravity,
             wind speed, circumference of roll versus
             contact to spin
             toilet paper
                          the two words still make us giggle

Stuck in the middle is a tough call
knowing the eldest should know better
while knowing the fun of growing up – not growing old
is made from instance of “can I try” and “it’s my turn”
             contact to spin
             toilet paper
                          sheets and sheets to the wind
giggles quiet snickers tempered with what-if’s
The youngest whom of all three knew no better at all
throughout the ensuing motherly investigation however
             would confess it was their idea
mere by-standers of instant replays
counting down from ten to
             contact to spin
             toilet paper
not even attempting to suppress squeals of delight
from what passed as the second floor balcony
Tempered laughter of delight from upstairs
             less than that from city streets
another mother’s smile a cautionary passer-by
chuckles knowing this will not likely be taken lightly
             while still enjoying the moments of three siblings
             with their contact to spin
             toilet paper

Mother’s look of wonder, then horror, then outright anger
would later contort her face
             with the pain of child-rearing
             peppered with mischievous deeds
             seasoned in time with thoughts
             of squealing children and their
             contact to spin
             toilet paper

In response, Teresa made this image, titled “TP Toss: Threat Opp“: