Address older people as Sir or Ma’am
unless they drift slowly into your lane
as you aim for the exit ramp.
Don’t call anyone dickhead, fuckface, or ass-hat;
these terms are reserved for ex-boyfriends
or anyone you once let get past second base
and later wished would be sucked into a sinkhole.
Yelling obscenities at the TV is okay,
as long as sports are clearly visible on the screen,
but it’s rude to mutter at the cleaning products in Safeway.
Also rude: mentioning bodily functions.
Therefore, sentiments such as “I went balls to the wall for her”
or “I have to piss like a chick with a pelvic disorder at a kegger contest”
are best left unexpressed.
Don’t’ say “chick,” which is demeaning
to the billions of sentient creatures
jammed in sheds, miserably pecking for millet.
Don’t talk about yourself. Ask questions
of others in order to show your interest.
How do you like my poem so far?
Do you think I’m pretty?
What would you give up to make me happy?
Don’t open your raincoat to display your nakedness.
Fondling a penis in public
is problematic, though Botero’s black sculpture
of a fat man in the Time-Warner building
in New York, his pee-pee rubbed gold,
seems to be an exception.
Please lie to me about your pedophilia
and the permafrost layer.
Stay in bed on bad hair days.
When the pulley of your childhood
unwinds the laundry line of your dysfunction,
here is a list of items to shove deep in the dryer:
disturbed brother’s T-shirt,
depressed mother’s socks and tennis racket,
tie worn by soused father driving the kids home
from McDonald’s Raw Bar. If you refuse
your host’s offer of alcohol, it is best to say,
“I’m so hung over, the very thought of drinking
makes me feel like projectile vomiting,”
or, “No thank you, it interferes with my medications.”
Hold your liquor whenever it is fearful
and lonely, whenever it needs your love.
Don’t interrupt me when I’m battering.
Divorce your cell phone in a romantic restaurant.
Here is an example
of a proper thank-you card:
Thank you for not sharing with me
the extrusions of your vague creative impulse.
Thank you for not believing those lies
everyone spreads about me, and for opening
the door to the next terrifying moment,
and thank you especially for not opening your mouth
while I’m trying to digest my roast chicken.