Scoundrel Time

Gig Economy

I am a person you can pay to outsource
the in-person trolling of your long-distance nemeses.
On Monday, I got paid enough to buy a sandwich
for side-eyeing someone at a coffee shop.  Yesterday,
it was knocking someone’s ice cream onto the sidewalk
and then yelling “Mike says have a great day!”
while I made my escape. Today I have a pricey one.
Enough money for a fancy meal to call and cancel
Ubers until my client’s nemesis picks me up,
then boo them while they drive me
a single city block, at rush hour.
It can be hard to maintain a constant,
seething rage from a great distance.  Outrage
is knee-jerk, but rage is personal.  I provide
an important service.  The app makes sure to warn users
about how revenge can never satisfy.
This is for legal reasons.  For revenge to work,
memory has to work too, and we don’t yet have
the technology to remember.  I wanted to hurt him back
for so long, wanted to make him feel my exact
injury, wanted to see him alone and hopeless, but
by the time I had the knife, revenge wasn’t the point
anymore, and it turned out the knife was for
cooking and making instead of cutting, the point
somehow had nothing to do with him.
As for you, better angels, it’s either you
or the moon landing.  These days I come home at night
and lie next to someone I like.
What are the small, true things we can tell each other?



Margaret Ray grew up in Gainesville, Florida and holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College. A winner of a Chapbook Fellowship from the Poetry Society of America and the Third Coast Poetry Prize, her poems have appeared in FIELD, The Gettysburg Review, Threepenny Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She teaches in New Jersey.






Photo by Ave Calvar on Unsplash: