Unlike my older brother, I generally enjoyed the nineties.
A world of Netscape, chat rooms and Fruit by the Foot.
I remember them like the debossed covers of R.L. Stein.
Neon sex toys dotting our suburban malls lead us to believe
in an intimacy communicated beyond brand names
when our couch sucked back into a shady hole of hands.
September came, laden with unused Trapper Keepers.
Macarenas were danced. Ring Pops were had. Giga Pets
and Beanie Babies, Dunk-A-roos and VHS cassettes.
The Little Golden Books by my bed told me stories.
Cedar Crest and chlorine. I remember snow days.
Watching humanoid Bob Barker on split-screen TV.
Closed armoires scented with piney Lemon Pledge.
In the woods was mesh and abandoned buckets of
porn beside inscrutable rainbow tree frog corpses.
Lisas and Jessicas and Matthews and Michaels all.
Narcotic and green, a risible lump disturbed life,
dizzying mallets hobbling us to plastic-farm noon.
Success metrics had incomparable swish. People
kept moving and threaded through one another
with slogging garage door jerkiness. And most
menacing: how happiness encroached with slow
ultimatums fatalistically stuck to stick-resistant pans.
Abundance, reversed now, feels shod. Feels pocked.
It could be no more than a rake in the trunk of a car.
I didn’t know then what a locker room was for.
Friends were screen names and infinitely away.
If I had to point a finger, if I had to queue a song
to play my life, if the finishing move was finality,
wouldn’t my sense of the nineties bring back painless
simplicity in transit? Weight Watchers and frozen
people. Linoleum not to be remembered if outlived.
Afterwards, I saw what they did to the bed furniture.
I knew their services weren’t free. Not to “go there.”
What was taken from me is still happening. Scrubbed
out. Tossed out. I never cared for the dishes. What
they replaced me with not me. That was never me.