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Curmudgeon
by Ed Ruzicka

I look forward to off elections
when candidates for judge and city council
post out stiff fliers. Mug shots up front.
On the back, themselves stiff and proud beside their brood.
They brag in red white and blue, a lot of blue, Prussian blue.

The paper is almost razor thin but strong
and bows well enough to sweep up shattered glass
cleaner than any dustpan from the Walmart aisles.

This is what my grandma taught.
Cling to a nickel, squeeze a dime.
Let nothing go in the trash bin
unless you’re absolutely sure
it has no other use.

Bread ties fasten folded extension cords
Worn shirts can be scissored in strips to tie tomato stalks.
Keep safety pins in an emptied throat lozenge tin.
Line the trash can with a bag from Qwik Mart.

Once folks didn’t have much. Now we do.
I cling to the old ways, save what I can:
a paper clip, plastic, whale’s baleens,
the bellies of ravens. Like grandma,
I live the way a mite does in a wall crack,
take great joy in being a curmudgeon

raised by frugal Czechs in a Midwest
where Februaries roar in like monsters
born in a Grimm’s fairy tale
and fear our future might
come back at us just that damn hard.

PHOTO: Rubber band globe by Donna O’Donoghue.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ed Ruzicka’s most recent book of poems, My Life in Cars, was released a year ago. Ed’s poems have appeared in the Atlanta Review, Rattle, Canary, the Xavier Review and the San Pedro River Review, as well as many other literary journals and anthologies. A finalist for the Dana Award and the New Millennium Award. Ed is an Occupational Therapist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he lives with wife, Renee.