by Tiel Aisha Ansari

To think you’re still maintaining that old score
as if you were bartending, and my tab
was full of unpaid drinks. I swear you’re like
a Roomba swooping ’round a polished floor
in search of any speck of dust to grab,
a vulture waiting for a car to strike

some sorry squirrel. Justice is on strike,
you mutter, while your heavy hand is scoring
gouges in the tabletop. I grab
another can of beer and pull the tab.
It overflows and soaks the vinyl flooring
like the Red Sea drowning Pharoah. Like—

oh, who cares what the hell this beer is like?
It only counts as yet another strike
against me. Get the mop out, scrub the floor
and put it all down on my growing score.
You know I’ll never live to pay this tab,
you’ll have to settle for what you can grab:

unsatisfactory, I’m sure. It grabs
me, though I doubt it’s to your liking,
that I should dodge the arrows, slings and stabs
of vast, outrageous fortune’s random striking
and exit, leaving this unsettled score,
a steaming pile of grudge upon the floor

of your neat parlor. Truly, I was floored
to find you hadn’t let it go. You grab
on, pit-bull stubborn. Slights are underscored
by constant replays that you treasure like
a has-been pitcher watching his last strike
on video. You won’t erase the tab

of your old habits. Flip its power-tab
and Roomba buzzes mindless ’round the floor,
gets stuck in corners, never tries to strike
a new frontier. They programmed it to grab
what it runs over, good and bad alike.
Poor robot Roomba doesn’t know the score.

You had to grab the mike, so take the floor
and call the strikes and runs just as you like.
There’s no one keeping tabs or taking score.

Tiel Aisha Ansari is a Sufi, martial artist, and data analyst living in the Pacific Northwest. Among her credits are Fault Lines PoetryVerseweavers, The Lyric, Barefoot Muse, and the Everyman’s Library anthology Villanelles. Her poetry has been featured on KBOO, Prairie Home Companion and MiPoRadio and her collection Knocking from Inside is available from Ecstatic Exchange. Visit her blog and her Smashwords page.

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