Orange Chicken & Today’s Society: Poetry by Mathieu Cailler

“Jesus’s Yelp Review of Panda Express”

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This is my first time using Yelp, so you’ll have to pardon me if I’m not following the guidelines correctly.

I remember when the founder of Yelp, little Jeremy Stoppelman, was born. He was a sweet boy, a curious boy… always a bit of a snitch and gossip, but it’s good to see that his vice became his vocation, and that his one-time weakness is now worth over 500 million.

Anywho, I’m here, in Venice, California, where a lot of you guys look like me, so I fit right in. Just want to grab a bite and try Panda Express. I know what you’ve done to pandas, so I was shocked (and relieved) to see they weren’t on the menu. Hard to know with you humans. Part of me expected to see a bald-eagle-and-panda kebob as one of the combos.

The lady in front me (her name’s Betty Rega— and she’s always been rude) asked to try the chicken and held the line up for three minutes, just chewing and ooh-ing. It’s chicken, Betty. Come on. Use that imagination I gave you and let’s keep the line moving.

The Chow Mein’s pretty good. It’s about as Chinese as Andy Warhol (miss that little goober), but still packed with lots of flavor and shrimp and wondrous MSG. (Every time I give you guys a chemical, you seem to use them in your food. Hilarious.)

Traffic’s rushing by on the main road, and I’m taking it in. You guys are buzzing about from lane to lane, honking and cursing, only minutes later to enter your homes, set down your bags, and kiss your children with those same mouths.

I have to be honest, I used to work harder with you all. I used to think that, at your cores, you were good. Sure, many of you—most of you—are just misguided. But I think I started mailing it in sometime around the internet’s appearance. (I really just helped Gore invent that thing so that you guys could burn CDs.) But wow, did that backfire! Have you ever checked out the comments section on YouTube?—holy shit, right? I actually listened to some jazz the other day—a little Thelonious Monk—and wrote a comment about his unique sound and was told to “go get slapped by my own mama.” Mary’s not like that, though, and I didn’t react right away, but rest assured that DolphinBaby42 will be receiving a jury duty summons in the coming weeks.

Yup, the comments section was it for me. I started showing up to the office a little later, playing a round of golf beforehand, and not even changing out of my spike cleats, just tracking in mud and sod across the clouds.

Then you all started with CrossFit. Hot damn! Enough already! I get it, I get it! You can lift a tire over your head. You still can’t remember your wife’s birthday or any of your children’s ages, but I’ll call you if I need a man who can shake some rope that’s tied to a wall.

I still have hope, though. It’s what I’m made of. Many of you are as sickened as I am. Many of you aren’t sure how we got here. And that makes me keep at it. I need you more than you need me right now, if that makes sense. Don’t make my heart melt as fast as those polar caps, okay?

I thought the Ten Commandments was a short enough list, but maybe it’s too much reading for you folks.

So let’s keep it simple and go back to that grammar-school golden rule. You remember that one, right? Good.

No, not that one. That’s eye for an eye. And that was a joke.

Yes, that other one. About being good to each other. You do remember it?

Yes. Good. I thought you would. It was taught to you when you were a tiny tot, before you ingested all that Trans-fat and your mind became as littered as Bourbon Street after Mardi Gras. Let’s go back to that.

All right, kids, that was little longer than I intended. Gonna go grab a drink cup and have a little orange Fanta… my salt level’s higher than Mount Sinai.

Three stars.

Peace unto all.

Yours,

JC


Mathieu Cailler’s poetry and prose have been widely featured in numerous national and international publications, including the Los Angeles Times and The Saturday Evening Post. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, he is the recipient of a Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction and a Shakespeare Award for Poetry. He is the author of Clotheslines (Red Bird Press), Shhh (ELJ Publications), and Loss Angeles (Short Story America Press), which has been honored by the Hollywood, New York, London, Paris, Best Book, and International Book Awards. His newest book, May I Have This Dance? (About Editions), was recently named poetry winner of the New England Book Festival. His first children’s book is due out later this year.

 

 


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