Four Poems, by Larry O. Dean

Chopped: Algebra Edition
What I’ve made for you today is a real reunion
of broken parts,
a deconstruction, if you will, in the style
of Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi’s
“Rules of Reintegration and Reduction,”
whereby thickening and intensifying the flavor
of certain quadratic equations is achieved
by boiling rapidly
                              vectors, matrices, and polynomials
without a lid, stirring in flash-fried associative
and non-associative onion rings for crunch,
garnishing with identity and inverse elements,
such as zeroes and negative numbers
for commutativity. The order
                                                of the ingredients
does not affect the result. Bon appétit!
does not affect the result. Bon appétit!
Fun Facts!
Napoleon’s middle name was Doug.
Einstein’s famous equation started out as e=mcHammer.
Joan of Arc was a Gemini.
Liquid Paper® was originally called Fluid Papyrus®.
JFK suffered from migraines.
George Washington did not have wooden teeth—he had wooden lips.
An apple a day only keeps the proctologist away.
Flip-flops were invented by Philip Flop.
The chicken crossed the road to commit suicide.
The Wright Brothers kept kitties and hawks as pets.
Climate change is all about attitude.
God doesn’t call them abortions, he calls them oopsies.
Nicolas Cage actually lives in a cave.


Roy Lichtenstein (1964)

I’m sorry, Nancy, but I’ll have
to break our date! I have
an important business
appointment. See you
tomorrow night!

Ohhh …
Alright …

You sound
Don’t be disappointed.

Ohhh …
Alright …

I mean it! I’ll make it up
to you. Maybe we can grab
a bite to eat
at that place you love
in the village? Candles,
wine … the works!

Ohhh …
Alright …

The place with
the checkered

Or we can go
somewhere new.
Baby, I’m thinking
about you …
it’s all I can do!
Please don’t be angry.
Are you angry?
Are you angry?

You are angry!
Baby, don’t be mad
at me. I can’t help it
if the boss gives me
all the big assignments.
I can’t help it
if I’m his go-to guy,
his wingman,
his #1 son!

Won’t you say

Ohhh …
Alright …

Maybe you just don’t
dig what I’m up against.
Guys at the office,
they’re all gunning
for my gig!
I’m like the big
man on campus,
ya know?
Lotta pressure …
lotta pressure …

And the last thing
I need right now
is for you
to bum me out!
Jeez Louise,
Nancy, be a
pal, OK?

Ohhh …
Alright …

That’s my girl!
That’s my girl!
Now you’re talking!
Atlantic City …
you like Atlantic
City, right?

Who doesn’t like
Atlantic City?
We’ll go, catch
a show or two,
gamble some, maybe
make it in one of those
heart-shaped beds?
Yeah, I’ll ask
for the honeymoon suite …

a suite for my sweet!

Get it?
Get it?
One of those huge
heart-shaped beds,
reserved just for you
and me!
You like?

Ohhh …
Alright …

That’s my girl!
OK, Nancy.
I gotta go.
Lotta work to do.
Lotta pressure …
lotta pressure …
so little time.
Big kisses from
your big daddy-o!
Big kisses!
Lotta hugs!
Lotta you-know-what.
The world is gonna
be our oyster.
See you tomorrow!

Ohhh …
Alright …


Soft + Strong

At the supermarket
with shopping list
horizontal lines
slash through
all the items but

I stand
staring down
a boundless aisle
dizzying array
of paper products

peregrinate past
bricked boxes
of facial tissue,
napkins too
to quantify,
columnated piles
of paper towels
and halt—

eyes dropping
down to the list:
toilet paper
(soft + strong).

as a summer breeze
cutting through
the humidity
and cooling
calescent skin, like

reverse osmosis
polymers, or
by addition of
chelating agents
to water,

like Kara
Miller’s lips
the night
my virginity
waved adios,

like one
stochastic reality
of collapsed cave
with stuck spelunkers
rationing snacks
until all the food
is gone (and
no help is coming)

and one refuses
to do anything
to survive
(and no help is coming)
and the others
start looking
at him
with hostile eyes
—no help
is coming.

as dad’s hands
cradling me
after birth,

like the smell
of Cuban cigars
in a 1950s
boardroom, like
a Macy’s
perfume counter
at Christmastime,

like Superman’s
anatomy or

Gandhi’s will,
William F.
opinions, like

the steel rivets
and suspension cables
of the Golden
Gate Bridge,

like the zealotical
of the 9/11

Soft +
strong like Jesus,

like Lao-tzu:
“Water is fluid,
soft, and yielding.
But water
will wear away
rock”; like Kyle

in The Terminator,
trekking through
time to meet
Sarah Connor,
of John Connor,
Kyle’s commander
and humanity’s savior
from SkyNet,

their love flourishing
from a faded
Polaroid Instamatic
paradoxical picture:
Kyle dies to save
            Sarah; John
is born because
of Kyle. Like

Bonnie + Clyde
coffee + cream
Algren + Beauvoir
lather + razor
Bambi + Godzilla
roadrunner + coyote

—like Puffs
Ultra®, Charmin Ultra®,
Brawny Pick-A-Size®,
Quilted Northern®
—these extravagantly
titled commodities
promising comfort
and strength
all-in-one con-
venient package.
I price check
the cheapest,
cross it off
the list. Done.

Larry O. Dean was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. As a young man, he worked with Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Michael Moore, published essays and reviews on popular culture in the alternative press, and also cartooned for fanzines and other underground outlets.
Dean is author of full-length collections Activities of Daily Living (2017) and Brief Nudity (2013); also chapbooks Rate of Exchange & Other Poems (1988); Barking Up the Wrong Tree (1989); QWERTYUIOP (1989); Eyes, Ears, Nose & Throat (1990); Workers’ Comp. (1995); Identity Theft for Dummies (2003); I Am Spam (2004), poems ‘inspired’ by spam email; About the Author (2011); abbrev (2011), a short series of poems based on abbreviations and acronyms culled from popular culture as well as technical and business jargon; and Basic Cable Couplets (2012).

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