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Poem: Matches 

Matches
(found in various locations during an
especially thorough house-cleaning)

#1
SCANTICON-PRINCETON
Box.
Green, with pseudo gold leaf abstract on top.
Princeton Forrestral Center, Princeton, NJ
Light dependably. Nice flame. Forest green tips.
Number remaining: two and three-quarters.

#2
PINOT
Box.
Brown print on white.
Front: PINOT
On the back:
Pinot Bistro, Studio City, CA
Café Pinot, Downtown Los Angeles, CA
Pinot Restaurant & Martini Bar, Pasadena, CA
Pinot Hollywood, Hollywood, CA
Pinot Provence, Costa Mesa, CA
Pinot Blanc, St. Helena, CA
Pinot Brasserie, Las Vegas, NV
All that, they squeezed on the underside
of a match box.
The matches?
Cheap; difficult to light.
Gray tips.
Number remaining:
Seven.

#3
MORAN’S
Book.
Front: white-on-green replica of the building.
Back: Authentic Irish atmosphere.
Open 7 days a week.
Wood-burning Fireplaces
Catering For All Occasions
(Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, Up To 200 Guests)
Corner of W. 19th St. & 10th Avenue, New York City
Light quickly. Burn fast.
Number remaining: all but three.

#4
SHOP RITE
Book. Standard logo on cover.
Inside: Has PRICE PLUS
Please keep away from children
.
These strike roughly,
and burn with
enough flame for a Newport or Marlborough Light
if it’s not too windy wherever you happen to be.
50% used.

#5
CHATEAU MARMONT
The color scarcely matters.
On the back:
Hollywood.
Inside:
A naked
—or would that be nude?—
woman poses on the bottom step of several
leading to
a swimming pool.
Her shadow beneath
was hidden behind the gray-tipped matches until
they were torn from the book,
perhaps to light an after-dinner cigar.
Only a single match is left.
Merely one.
Not two.
Not three or more.
One match.
The nude and naked
shadow of the woman
posing on the
swimming pool steps
cannot hide behind it.

#6
ANGELI
Book.
Glossy white.
Angel wings
line-drawn in red.
Inside:
Angeli Caffe Melrose Ave, L.A.
Trattoria Angeli Santa Monica Blvd, L.A.
Angeli Mare Marina Marketplace, Del Rey
White-tipped.
Number remaining: all.
All of them.
Each one waiting
to be struck.

#7
SUSHI KO
Book.
Black, white, and red. Tokyo meets Happy Days lettering.
Bel-Air, California 90077
Strike hard and the flame burns easily.
Red tips.
Number of matches remaining:
half of one, three-quarters of another.

Is he picking his teeth with them?

Speaking of...

  • Poetry edited by Phillip Levine.

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