Dinner at the Tuba Museum

If this place is a joke, no one knows
they should be laughing.The hostess puts down her crossword,
and sends us to a corner.On her hat: Save the whales
or eat them now. You decide.

We decide to see the menu, then not.
Too much choice is confusing.

Over a dish of Tanzanian yams
you tell me what’s new.

“My son’s back home.”
“There’s mold in the basement.”

“I suck at divorce.”
I tally tubas, forty or so

nailed to the walls. I played one
back in school, I say,

puffing up my cheeks for proof.
Two booths over, some cub scouts howl

and chew their way to achievement.
“Happy for now,” you say, satisfied.

Tonight I would be happy to join those scouts
but for the dreadful necessity of merit

and those awful caps they wear.
Everything improves with practice, I lie.

The truth is I did not play the tuba,
I was a cub scout for only a week,

and if I learned anything from the experience
it’s that quitting can be delicious.

I try eating my artichokes, fibrous
as cysts, hard as grenades,

and tell you things are bound to get better.
They are. But sometimes they don’t.

 

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