March 1-7, 2021: Poetry from Bryan Damien Nichols and Michael Minassian

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Bryan Damien Nichols

Bryan Damien Nichols was born in Houma, Louisiana, on August 30, 1978.  He earned a B.A., summa cum laude, in Philosophy from Baylor University, and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.  He has practiced law both in Houston and in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.  Bryan currently lives in Los Fresnos, Texas, with his loving wife, Michelle. Bryan is best known for the poetry he writes through his two heteronyms:  (1) Kjell Nykvist; and (2) Alexander Shacklebury.  These two heteronyms were featured in Bryan’s debut poetry collection, Whispers From Within (Sarah Book Publishing, 2015).  In addition to his many individual publications, Bryan has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Bryan Damien Nichols and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

What’s Wrong with my Inbox?

My Inbox is filling with messages
from people and companies
I know nothing about.

First, it’s Christian Mingle,
which I don’t need because
I’m married and found my wife
outside of church anyway.
Next, a message from Local Sluts,
which does me no good because
I no longer frequent strip clubs
or singles bars or church groups.
Next, a message from “Mandy,” who’s sad
we’re not Facebook friends, which is odd
because I don’t know a “Mandy,”
and have never had a Facebook account.

Then, there’s Muhammed Ibn Ishaq
who, though he can’t possibly know me,
wants to give me a million dollars if I
help him get thirty million out of Qatar.

A guy I know sends me an email
about how I can get 50% off
normal rates, but when I call him,
he says the deal is only for new customers.

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

I receive a message about the joys
of visiting New Orleans, where I went
a few weeks back. There’s a message
about visiting Michigan, a place
I’ve never been, though it reads:
“We can’t wait for you to come back!”

Viagra wants me to try their product,
but I don’t need it, thankfully,
since I have a cute assistant and am
married anyway. Another message
says I can get narcotics without
a prescription. Another claims to have
found the Fountain of Youth. The new
Japanese restaurant in town somehow
knows my email address and sends me coupons,
though it closes days later, to no one’s dismay,
because it served awful food.

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

Some dating website sends me a message.
It’s filled with pictures of girls
who’ve been on the website for ten years.
Either these women don’t age
or they’re robots. And if they’re real,
I wouldn’t want some woman
who’s been trying to get a date for ten years.
And I’m married anyway.

A company I can’t pronounce wants
to sell me a restaurant. What?
One company, from New Jersey,
wants me to come by to get an eye exam,
though I live in Texas.

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

I get emails about baseball from the MLB.
At the bottom, it says I can
“unsubscribe” by clicking the button below.
I do. I then receive a message asking
why I want to unsubscribe. When I don’t
respond, the same old emails keep coming.

I get a message written in Russian.
I delete it. I get a message from “Jack,”
some prisoner in Vermont. He gives me
a long-winded tale of being framed
by his family. He says the drugs
Were not his, but belonged to his cousin,
who’s escaped to Vancouver.
I delete it. Then there’s a message from
“Laura Love Lips.” I delete that too.
Then, a message from “Mandy”—
that whole Facebook thing again.

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

Amazon.com wants to know
how I’ve been. That’s weird.
Some hotel chain in North Dakota asks me
“Are you there?” That’s weirder.
A charity emails me about how it appreciates
my recent donation, though I don’t know
one thing about it.

Vanessa wants to talk. Dennis wants
my business. Diane wants to meet hot singles.
Karen wants to sell Tupperware.
Jordan is asking for a land survey.
Patricia wants to know if I like hamburgers.
Omar wants to sell cocaine. Mr. Slim wants
to know if I feel healthy. John wants
to sell me football tickets. Kim wants to know
if I fathered her children.

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

The list goes on and on:
face lifts, money for nothing, easy women,
the lottery, a payday loan, a timeshare,
some place to eat, a weight loss tip,
a steroid, a sex pill, a heart pill,
a brain pill, a tummy tuck, a chin tuck,
a breast implant, a bigger dick,
a new set of tools, a new vacation,
a new movie, a new life, a “new you.”

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

Michael Minassian

Michael Minassian’s poems and short stories have appeared recently in such journals as Live Encounters, Lotus Eater, and Chiron Review. He is also a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist and photography: Around the Bend. His poetry collections, Time is Not a River and Morning Calm are both available on Amazon. He is also the winner of the Poetry Society of Texas 2020 Catherine Case Lubbe Manuscript Prize. Visit Michael on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Michael Minassian and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Steel Pier

Once, my father took me
and my younger sister
to Atlantic City for a week.

We stayed in a motel
a few blocks from the beach,
the boardwalk, and the steel pier—

Every day we saw a show
with clowns, performing seals,
acrobats, and a diving horse
that leapt from a platform
into a wooden tank of water;
my sister cried every time
the horse jumped.

My father let us swim in the ocean,
bought us hot dogs and cotton candy;
some days we played in the sand
while he read the newspaper.

Every night we asked him,
Why didn’t mom come with us?
he always said, She’s busy,
and wouldn’t say anything else.

When we drove back home
on the Garden State Parkway
he didn’t say a word,
and we never took a vacation
without my mother again,
but for weeks my sister
had nightmares of riding
on the back of a diving horse,
jumping into the ocean,
and chasing my mother
as she swam for shore.

I wondered why my parents
never spoke about that time
or why they were so quiet
at the dinner table.

Their arguments always
about the same things,
as if they had trained to jump
from a great height
into a glass of water
that moved every time
they stepped off the platform
into the shifting air.