That Thing

by Charles Harper Webb

Shake that thing.
      —Wynonie Harris

Rake that thing into the fire. Watch it burn with a green flame.
Break that thing in two pieces, one for me, one to feed the land-crabs
      clacking at your knees.

Fake that thing into the air, drive to the hoop, lay the ball onto the glass,
      and save the game. Pretty please.
Cake that thing with so much medicated goop that sags and wrinkles
      disappear, and once again it’s sweet sixteen.

Bake that thing into a cobbler. Sprinkle with nutmeg and rue. Cook
      until it glows fluorescent blue,
Take that thing to Hawaii. Let it tutor you in hula, scrub failure’s egg-
      nog off your mug, and mend your head if a bad coconut descends.

Wake that thing by yelling, "Come on, guys! We’re here!" Drag it
      off the bus and make it run, flip-flops flapping, into the warm-
      as-a-bathtub Bay of Things You Used to Love, But Now You Fear.
Make that thing sit up, roll over, and declare your worth when the world
      stamps REDUCED FOR QUICK SALE on your bum. Change it
      into an ottoman, an otter, an autoharp, an auto which is a harp too,
      and plays more angelically, the closer to the speed of light you go.

Chase that thing back to wherever such things grow. Revel in the Day-
      Glo orange trees and orchid-scented air; sip from the steel-gray
      stream that makes you stronger than the Hulk; more iron-jawed
      than Superman; able to tell a joke so everybody laughs, instead of
      wishing you’d step on a land mine.
Mace that thing, and throw it in The Hole. Whine as you will, it can’t do
      much more for you.

Better to take up golf or bridge, chess in the park, or shuffleboard.
      Better to join an opera club and go on cruises where you never leave
      the ship, and buy the grandkids dolls with grass skirts they’ll rip off,
      and find smooth plastic underneath. Better leave moving, grooving,
      being delicately crude to sweet young dingbats like we were when,
      to wondrous effect, you’d
Shake for me that thing I loved so much: that much-loved thing.

Published on July 23, 2011