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Self Service


ISSUE:  Autumn 1996

Neither autoerotic nor auto-
Cratic, here it’s automotive, tank filled
With benzina, pressure checked, windshield perfectly
Cleaned. Or I’ve seen SELF CENTER, wanted to
Check in, be checked out, have my autograph
Analyzed. I’ve read that the little lizard
In the backyard has autotomy—it can
Cast off part of its body in order to save
The whole. Then I’ve seen simply SELF—big red
Letters, as if the station itself were
Some automaton that didn’t need any-
Body else, so self-contained, so self-centered.
Is service slavery? And on the road
To Rome, an S had dropped off, so the sign
Read ELF SERVICE, but whether they could reach
My gas cap or whether the station was
Exclusively for elves wanting service, I don’t know.
I do know I didn’t want to find out. Did
Freud drive, make-out at the drive-ins as I
Did? Sloppy adolescent kisses, back
Seat anxiety, the automobile hardly
Ever so bluntly erotic again.
O the slavery of the self, the self s shelf
Life of one hundred years, and then the jar
Smashed, spilling out its blank verse. The loaded
Gun will go off in this poem, even though
I haven’t mentioned a gun earlier. So
Listen for backfire, for tires exploding,
For this poem, so full of itself it thinks
It doesn’t need service. It’s its own slave.
It opens its own lock. It ties its own shoe.
It cuts its own bread. It pumps its own gas.

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