★ Five Poems by Rich Boucher

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Night Of The Big Bad Headache

The Doctor said it was just the world
that was causing me pain, and he said this
while wearing while wearing a white coat,
So this meant he was right and it was true.
He said I wasn’t crazy, it wasn’t all in my head,
but, even so, I was on my own to figure out
a way past and through the pain.

Night one of the big bad headache,

and I took some Nyquil, a full dram of the rough stuff
and just about made it through the rotating hallway to the bed,
the pillow rocketing up to meet my face
until the last of my alarms went off.

Night two of the big bad headache,

and it found me just in my boxers,
one sock on, the cat looking at me
weirdly as I popped two Tylenol PM’s
and chased it with a dram and a half of cherry Nyquil,
guzzling it down like it was hot girlcum
issuing straight from the pink inferno and down my throat.

Night three of the big bad headache,

I haven’t told any of even my closest friends
that this headache is still going on; I’m naked in my den.
I realize that all the medicine lives in my kitchen
so I walk like an astronaut to the cupboards
and pull down four flavorful drams of delicious GirlQuil
along with three and half Tylenol PM’s
chased with a jigger of Knob Creek.

Night four of the big bad headache,

Night five of the big bad,

Night six of the,

Six of the big,

Night of the bad,

Six

#NotAllCompanies

In the event that a separation
between you (Applicant’s Name)
and the company (Futility Unlimited, LLC)
becomes necessary, you agree
to hold the company blameless.

You agree to hold the company,
and in return to let it hold you oh so close.

You agree to hold the company
while the company takes you roughly,
with no finesse but at least a thoughtful candle going,
while the company takes you the same way
every night, without even so much as a kiss on the neck;
you agree not to look into the company’s eyes
while the company has its way with you.

You agree to hold the company
tight all night long until the company
gets hard, gets off, gets bored with you,
gets angry, gets defensive, gets threatening,
gets rid of you.

You agree to hold the company
while working the shaft and balls.

The company needs you,
so stop thinking about yourself all the time;
stop being a fucking nag

look:

you agreed to hold the company

you agreed

Got Me Some Brand-New Allergies

I thought about eating some peanuts,
and I woke up the next morning all swollen.
And now after that forever I wake up
completely swollen in the mirror.
This is how I became to have to live
with all of my allergies that almost kill me a lot.
I can’t eat milk because my body will not tolerate
under any circumstances any milk. None. No.
My body is speciesist and ageist and also
alarmist and Sunkist against woke yolk
& intersectional, dialectical milk drinking.
It just won’t have it. I can’t have dangerous milk.
I had some milk on accident last morning
and as soon as I took a drink one of my eyes came out.
And then one of my feet turned into Spaghettio’s
and I coughed up a whole baby that was crying.
Milk is a bad thing for me, although they say it’s from cows.
One time I ate some pizza that had an onion on it,
and I wound up in a wheelchair for the rest of my life
for several tragical weeks because no one believes me.
I’m allergic to other people who have allergies, too.
I mean, I’m allergic to them having their own allergies
that I don’t agree with either religiously or dietarily.
There’s a woman I know who is allergic to whey.
She says she can’t have it. Like, no whey.
That’s what she says, anyway. I always look at her
weird and give her the hard stare when she brings it up.
See, because I like eating things with whey in them,
it makes me sick to think of her not eating any whey.
I get hives and colors and all kinds of bumps
when I learn of another’s allergy that I don’t like.
When people have allergies I agree with, however,
I also get bumps and colors but the good kind.
One time a guy told me he was allergic to other people
breaking wind around him, and my body reacted positively,
including a baby’s arm holding an apple springing
out of the front portion (or area) of my back.
Not to get into a he said, she said thing here,
But sometimes I look down at the front of my body
And I have to wonder what Mother Nature
Thinks she’s trying to pull here.
I can’t eat water. I’m able to drink it,
but I become allergic to water
every time I try to be eating some of it.
So many people truly don’t understand
that water isn’t always a good thing
or something safe to be around.
I can’t do almonds, also. I was given some almonds
by a very nice man with no name
and only a hazily-remembered face
when I was very little small, and it caused me
to break out in wheelchairs all over me.
It took days for all that to clear up.
Turns out I’m also allergic to being punched
in the mouth: that happened to me several months back
when I yelled at a boy who was taking too much time
at the salad bar, and as he hit me, my body started
acting allergically to his fist, with blood and teeth
coming out of my mouth and my lips.
It was painful, and I knew right away
that I was allergic to violence upon my person.
So if you see anyone moving fast and seeming like
they’re about to punch me in the mouth,
please be ready to help me.

Every day, I wake up completely swollen,
thanks to how my body reacts to things.
Think about me in that situation:
all swollen, and needing help.

The Elderly Hulk

I didn’t remember that the episode was called “The First”, or maybe I never knew it was called that. I was so young, young like a flower with a strange name in a summer home, home being sort of like a place where I could grow and change, change being a time we live through whether we want to or not. I was only thirteen years old, and I wasn’t even thirteen for very long at all, perhaps a year at the most. It’s difficult to say how long a person can be thirteen for. Memories are things very strange: they can be affected by trauma, a person’s body height and mass, and the mouth consumption of sugar, among four other things that can affect human memory. The episode’s title makes sense now of course; Bill Bixby’s wandering scientist David seeks and then actually finds a man who also would turn into a Hulk, but an older generation previously earlier before. He finds him after hitchhiking through the part of America that has woods. The man went by the name of Dell Frye, and he was creepy. But he also had in his possession a cure against turning into the Hulk, which was what our David was after. Let me tell you something and you listen to me: when Dell Frye turned into the elderly Hulk, he was one of the scariest things I or you had ever seen. Not one of any of the perhaps tens of thousands of people who have ever lived have ever seen anything so frightening. Not even after going to Hell for a while. It’s not hyperbole to say that. It’s not. No. No. But the most fearsome part of the episode wasn’t the old man transforming into an old Hulk, or the pitched battle between the young Hulk and the old in the nice Appalachian laboratory. It was David’s tears when the elderly Hulk threw the vial containing the cure against the wall; the sound of David crying. I’d never really paid attention to people around me all my life until that episode, so I never saw the sight or heard the sound of a grown man crying before. No one had. When I think back on that Friday night on the CBS television network in March of 1981, what I realize is that I was afraid to watch all of the episode. What drove my fear? Why was I so scared? What was there to be afraid of? Me? I feared for everything: my life, my family and my father because The Incredible Hulk wasn’t some show on some network. It was reality. What was happening was real.

An Apple A Day

His name was Dr. Jonathan Norquist, and he was my primary care physician. He was that until I did not want him to be that. Until I no longer felt safe with him doctoring me. I tried one day, after a handful of years of being under his care, to tell him that I no longer needed to see him. I told him so right in his office, at the conclusion of our last visit. At this news, he became visible. And he also became visibly upset. He told me that I “needed” to see him again, and I said no to him. I actually screamed it, and jumped off of the table that had the paper on it. I ran out of there, still just in my pale pink johnny gown, running for my life, across busy streets and buzzing front lawns, the hem of my gown trailing behind me in such a way that it made me look like an adult male little girl, and got home. Over the course of the next several days he or Kyle, his assistant, kept calling me and leaving me harassing messages talking about how I really needed to follow up with him. I didn’t respond. Soon, Dr. Norquist started showing up at my house, looking into my kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom windows to see what I was doing. His eyes would grow wide at some of the private things that I would do. Being stared at through the window didn’t bother me, but I was afraid that soon he was going to force himself into my home, and so I chose to remember the old proverb. And quite luckily, I had several apples on my kitchen counter during that time, and I placed one on the ground right in front of every possible way into the house. This worked like a charm; he couldn’t get within even a foot’s distance to the apple without suddenly seeming to experience a large amount of invisible pain, as though he’d become without warning the voodoo doll of some unseen child god. I’m very sure that doing this saved my life. The only catch to this solution is that when any of the apples start to spoil, I have to quickly run out of the back door and down to the supermarket down the street to buy more apples, and when I get back home I have to replace the apples really quickly, because I can actually see when the apples that are spoiling start to lose their effect on him. But you know what? He can growl and curse and grow a wild beard all he wants, and he does so constantly – I usually have to keep the radio or TV on real loud – but he’s not getting in here.

Rich Boucher resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rich is proud to have served two terms as a member of the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program’s Selection Committee, and also as a member of the 2008 & 2014 Albuquerque City Poetry Slam Teams. Rich’s poems have appeared in Gargoyle, Yellow Chair Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Apeiron Review, The Mas Tequila Review, In Between Hangovers, Menacing Hedge, Lotus-eater, Anti-Heroin Chic, Cultural Weekly and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others, and he has work forthcoming in Street Poet Review. He served for a year as the Associate Editor at Elbow Room Magazine: elbowroomnm.com. Currently living Life 2.0.

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