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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.

from MezzaninesFind more by Matthew Olzmann at the library

Copyright © 2013 Matthew Olzmann
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Matthew Olzmann Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.