Two Poems by Matt Mason

Aug 20th, 2018 | By | Category: Poetry

Karl Marx’s Brain Explodes a Little by the Time He Hits the Churro Cart

It’s so America,
so nineteen fifties,
so Main Street nostalgic, so
Karl-Marx’s-brain-would-explode-by-the-time-he-hit-the-churro-cart capitalistic.
I prefer the Mickey beignets.
I remember when Nemo was a Captain, not a fish.
I remember running into Minnie
inside the turnstiles and to the left,
at the spot set to meet old friends
back before any of us had cell phones.
It’s a thrill to be back now, bring my nuclear American family:
Sophia wants Space Mountain,
Lucia wants the Dumbo ride,
Sarah wanted Peter Pan’s Flight but it’s closed for refurbishment,
I just want everything, sugar
sprinkled on top,
only charged a few dollars too many at every stop.

Were Karl here, I could map just where his brain
would pop
(mapping his path past the hat shop the coffee shop the bakery shop the coffee stand
______the balloon seller the turkey leg shop),
you could mentally set an X by the churro cart as the farthest he could possibly get.
He would point out every child
crying in the line whipped around the Matterhorn,
only said, “See?”
he wouldn’t need to preach,
just point,
curl his lip a practiced touch.
He wouldn’t ride anything,
he’d just stop at every cast member
and ask questions (If you were watching from a distance,
you’d just see a lot of facial hair and a dusty suit
flapping and staring into a seventeen year old boy or girl’s eyes,
who, all of them, smile, shrug, continue
sweeping cobblestones or making Dole Whips or asking if they can take your
The guy in the Goofy costume would sit with him at a patio table outside Jolly
gigantic head bounding up and down like a diving board wearing a tiny hat
before he stands up, shakes a floppy shoe
and hugs a little girl in Mickey ears.

We pass him
on our way
to Pirates.
He’s holding a corn dog,
his head cartoonishly oversized,
a triumphant grin painted on his mouth.

Systematic Oppression and Goofy

What does Goofy think
when he sees Pluto
to that master?

clomps in,
wearing pants,
car keys
chiming in a pocket.

Does he
look down
at the long tongue
of a cousin

and think
but for the grace of God,

Does he have questions,
yet? Does he
pass it
off as just cartoon
and go back
to watching football?

Does he ever look at that giant
gloved hand, the fist
at the end of the leash,
and feel
his ears
pull back?


Matt Mason runs poetry programming for the State Department, working in Nepal, Romania, Botswana and Belarus. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize for his poem “Notes For My Daughter Against Chasing Storms” and his work can be found in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. The author of Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know (The Backwaters Press, 2006) and The Baby That Ate Cincinnati (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2013), Matt is based out of Omaha with his wife, the poet Sarah McKinstry-Brown, and daughters Sophia and Lucia.

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