Hopeless. Interested. (poetry)

“Certainly I was interested. I had to be, for I was hopeless.”
-“Bill’s Story,” Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 10

Abandon all hope, ye who enter
I lay all enamored of Interest
Who sexily swayed into the stuffy
Room where I divorced Hope—finally
Mouth all full of sugar
Heart all full of hate

Interest the mistress—
The new
Promised woman

Show me
What you’ve got.

-M. Ashley

Image is Everything in a College Cafeteria (poem)

One of the work-study cafeteria
workers took to drawing pictures
with a dry erase pen on the
sneeze guards over the entrees.

There was a speckled pink pig
for pork chops that had a conversation
bubble squeal (exclamation point)
above his terrified head.

There was a smiling, four-legged octopus,
(making him a quadrapus?)
above a tray of congealing seafood pasta
dyed, inexplicably, emerald green.

Mr. Peanut dapper-danced above the
orange peanut butter chicken
and a culturally insensitive meatball
thumbs-upped the scarlet Italian delight.

The artist slept in mornings though
leaving the breakfast sneeze guards bare
and me left to figure for myself
which mystery muffin was which.

I’d choose one at random and quickly
to appease the snarling line behind me
stacking into a long, contemptuous curve,
eyes on my body, eyes on my choice…

Inevitably I’d end up with the loathsome
banana nut which I would eat
alone, hands shaking
huddled in a bathroom stall.