If they gave a Nobel Prize for obscene wealth
combined with a reckless flair
this man would be on the short list
but I can’t complain, after all he hired me
to build a cabinet with, ahem, discretion,
if you catch my drift, and to build it
in a certain style, how shall I say,
a certain je ne sais quoi of bullshit
that appeals to men who have a genius for money.
So I work with my assistant, Jamal, who
has a genius for bringing out the magic in trees.
Jamal’s lineage is uncommon. He says he’s a shaman.
Together we apply rare imported hardwoods,
afromosia to bubinga to zebrawood
crafting a glass-fronted showcase to display
the rich man’s collection of exquisite ivory carvings
which for top dollar
we swear never to mention because,
perhaps, it is slightly less than legal
to slaughter protected animals.
In the final assembly atop Nob Hill
Jamal in a trance mumbles mutterings to
the exotic lumber. I don’t ask why or how
when the wood starts trembling in our hands,
burning scorch marks on my fingertips
but maybe that’s the essence
of je ne sais quoi.
A week of peace. Then comes the night
of no moon in San Francisco
when beasts arise out of cabinets,
walrus, elephant, narwhal
bursting the glass, smashing the furniture
running amok and afar
chased by security guards
across the Golden Gate.
My check has cleared, Jamal was paid.
It is not our problem.
Joe Cottonwood is a frequent contributor to The MOON, thank God. He lives with his high school sweetheart in La Honda, California. JoeCottonwood.com.