A Poetry Sporadical of Repeating Forms

Buster and Etta

by Michael Cantor

Buster’s father raised the boy to shoot
right for the goal: “Act like a man, and toe the line,
but never be a grind”and Buster learned to wear
the Princeton colors, played lacrosse and squash, interned
at Haversham & Hayesthere was no yes or no
about the MBA, or joining father’s bank.

Etta grew up near the river bank,
in the kind of shotgun shack a man could shoot
a 12 gauge throughand her daddy let folks know
he’d done that once or twice. He couldn’t draw a line
she wouldn’t cross, but Etta turned out tall and slim, and turned
sixteen aboard a silver bus to anywhere.

Buster finds his niche in Major Clients where
he handles downtown types. Their left bank,
left-wing prattle and their politics both turn
his stomach, but it’s business. He’d rather shoot
some billiards at the Club, yet somehow can’t malign
a kind of life he finds, at times, he wants to know.

Etta dishes with new friends: “The pants come off, you know,
and like, her father’s name is on his underwear!”
Super-model, twenty-two, she stalks the runway line;
a lion queen, the next new thing, a fashion passion bank.
The crowd applauds her stylish strut, while all she thinks is, “Shoot,
somewhere out there’s a real man,” and keeps her face upturned.

Now Buster flies to Nassau, where he’ll leave no stone unturned,
in a weekend planned for rugby, and for girls who won’t say “No”.
And Etta’s off to Tangiers on a five-day photo shoot;
she rustles through her shmattes as she picks out what to wear.
Her limo passes Buster’s just as his departs the bank,
by the time they stop at JFK their orbits both align.

She buys a skim milk latte; Buster’s next in line.
He is on a cell phone; her trim back is turned.
Etta glides right past him; Buster texts the bank.
Buster looks so handsome; Etta doesn’t know.
They never get together, though they criss-cross everywhere;
and leave on different aircraft, with their future down the chute.

Etta turned to chic design, and had her own sleek line.
Or did she turn to drugs and booze, and cocaine line-by-line?
The bank went bust and Buster lost his golden parachute.
Or did, in time, he run the bank, with time to hunt and shoot?
There may be still more endings, and we all should be aware:
You’ll never know where life will go, or how or when or where.

Michael Cantor resides on Plum Island, north of Boston on the Massachusetts coast, with a wife, a cat, and far too many books, woks and condiments.His work has appeared in Light Quarterly, Measure, Margie, The Dark Horse, The Atlanta Monthly, and numerous other venues.


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