Willie VerSteeg


In the store, I crack wise
about the stock decor,
the dozens of Live, Laugh, Love posters
with butterflies alighting
on each splayed serif,
and in this moment a woman
pulls up and loads one
into her cart and I’m the one
left feeling embarrassed,
maybe even envious,
in the same way I envy
that Austrian scientist
who promotes booger-eating
for a strong immune system—
I would have kept
that finding to myself,
but on he goes, presumably
practicing what he’s preached,
a few gold-digging acolytes
following in rank. I know
I can’t expect to like
every tacky trinket
inside this store—the ceramic
cats raising one paw—
but for once
I’d like to be the one
who makes the news
for his gaudy bomb shelter
stocked with pickled anything,
or to sit in a lawn chair throne
as I ascend beneath
a weather balloon bouquet.
The department store anthem
blares over the speakers—
It’s not having what you want,
it’s wanting what you’ve got—
and though I loathe
admitting it, Sheryl Crow
might be right on this one,
even in autumn,
with only so much sun
left to soak, because
when that half-light
sweeps across the parking lot
it’s not the novelty of it that I love,
but how it comes in
like an old friend
who needs no greeting.


Willie VerSteeg is a poet from San Diego, CA, currently living in Columbus, OH. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Slate, The Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, The Jabberwock Review, The Southern Humanities Review, Tar River Poetry, BOAAT Journal, Hayden’s Ferry Review and elsewhere.