Automatic American Misters


I end up in Costco around midnight.

The heavy doors of the store

are frozen open—one stunned

electric eye, the wide glass panes

pocketed into the sleeve of wall

next to the posters advertising

specials. Everything is on sale

which means nothing is on sale.

There are discounts for everyone,

for dictators. I rattle my way

down the cereal aisle—island

of granulated pimped juvenilia

and I hate to say it because it sounds

expected but this is where the OBE

begins—I am in my body, two fists

in the cereal box looking for a yo-yo,

then I am transported up above myself

into the steel rafters with the birds

looking down on myself. I nearly piss

myself. It’s kind of sad though, because—

and I should have said this before—

this is not the market of my life,

I mean, I am not down the street

from myself, it isn’t as big a deal

as one might expect. I just feel wistful

for Updike’s A&P and freshman comp

before iPhones. No one is wearing a polka

dot bikini or buying herring, it’s just girls

looking for pregnancy tests and boys

hunting down alcoholic energy drinks,

mothers tucking bottles of white wine

between packages of unscented

recycled diapers. America

where the automatic misters turn on

just before you reach for the organic kale,

everything is so fresh, Easter eggs

on discount, rifles on sale in the back,

a sleepy-eyed stoner with HPV

asleep in the walk in freezer. Point is

I end up as we all do eventually, dead

battery in the parking lot, resigned body

making that humped over S shape

at the wheel. Waiting for triple A,

contemplating AA, recognizing

I could’ve gotten an A in Driver’s Ed

if only I’d learned to jump my own car,

knew what wire went to what part

to make it go.


Alison Powell’s work has recently appeared in journals such as A Public Space, Boston Review, Copper Nickel, Prairie Schooner, and was recently featured on www.poets.org. Her first book On the Desire to Levitate won the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and was published by Ohio University Press in 2014. Powell received her PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2014. She is now an Assistant Professor of English at Oakland University.

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