Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Main Street Rag, Chiron Review, Permafrost, The Paterson Literary Review,and elsewhere.
Mr. Hippie Meets Dr. Responsible (A Monologue Disguised as a Dialogue)
All real living is meeting.
You are stuck so in habit:
two cups of tea in the morning,
two Diet Pepsis in the afternoon.
You think you’re so spontaneous
but look at all the nits you’re picking
with me now. Who cares what I drink?
Have you ever covered yourself with marmalade
and asked passersby to lick it off?
Of course not, and neither have you.
As a psychoanalyst I analyzed marmalade lickers,
I wasn’t one of them.
You used to wear a three-piece suit
and tie every day. I bet you practiced
raising your left eyebrow in that analytic stare.
My analytic stare is ambidextrous
and my eyebrows raise themselves quite
naturally. I never had to practice.
Before you got Ph.D’d you were a lot of fun.
I remember when you spent the summer of ‘69
naked, a hippie in Butte Canyon, California.
That macrobiotic diet didn’t yin my yang. We
had to call an ambulance when Marigold, the girl
who wouldn’t eat until she pooped, got constipated.
You were a free spirit, wore sandals and bellbottoms,
smoked dyna-weed, ate figs dried on a miner’s
tin roof in Butte Canyon.
The dyna-weed was cut with mescaline
and made me hear screams when
I chomped on those writhing figs.
You were on a tenure track, published 15 papers, but
walked away from your position at the University.
My colleagues complained relentlessly about
their pitiful lives. I couldn’t find an intellectual
conversation in that sea of conformist hypocrisy.
Isn’t there anything we can agree on?
You know there is:
We met, and were met by,
the one person who let us be
who we are: Mr. Hippie and Dr. Responsible—
the one who let us be our best, tolerated
our worst, kissed us goodnight, and
hugged us good morning.