I Hate Authority and Other Poems by Peter Mladinic


Becoming Invisible

They moved from city to suburbs. They were
lost, gobbled up, in some dark downstairs
apartment, all you could see were walls.
It was like they’d stopped living, so much

a part of the city they were, and where they
moved wasn’t desolate, a little city, but not
theirs of five-story brick walls, cobbled hills.
I see his long coat and fedora, her pillbox

hat with the little veil. You opened a window
looked out at other windows, fire escapes,
brick walls across the street. All that
was gone when they made the move, his

suspenders, the scar from her operation.
This new place it was like they weren’t there.

Ed’s Manor Tavern

He’d been drinking at Ed’s and left alone.
His Pontiac failed to make the long turn,
toppled into a culvert, no seatbelts back
then, his leg smashed, half between Ed’s
and home, a Lorillard exec, heavyset, iron
gray hair, plaster cast, bulbous pitted nose.

On his breezeway soda bottles in wooden
crates, he couldn’t lift one then. I liked
the colors: lime orange strawberry black
brown red yellow, a rainbow of bottled sugar
in drab but sturdy crates delivered weekly
to his door. One color clear, like water.

Cape Man

Sal Agron was the Cape Man,
only he wasn’t a man. Sixteen,
he stabbed two teenagers

in ‘59, his story
in news pages spread on a stone floor.
Fish guts soaked the paper.

Robin’s gran cleaned trout.
On a breezeway
light shone through jalousies. Sal’s

dark pompadour crested his pale brow.
His long, straight nose led him astray.
Her hand turned the blade.

From the Old Country,
she came to the States
with her husband, lived with her

daughter, son-in-law,
two grandkids. I wonder if Sal,
in jail, left a daughter.

Under an oak Robin’s gran
taught me not to walk on my toes.
The brown bun threaded with gray

at the top of her head resembled a pin
cushion. Stout, she wore specs.
Her hands held long needles,

crocheting wool.
She sliced down skin, opening trout.
Their insides soaked Sal’s cape.

I Hate Authority

Parents teachers cops judges—
don’t like anyone telling me what to do.

Okay, moron. Consider,
no authority, no order. There’d be chaos.
Some desperate soul slits your throat
as you sleep,
steals the Timex
off your wrist as your blood runs
in the gutter.
Authority’s a good thing,
so long as its hand doesn’t reach so far
as to tell you
how to button your shirt or blouse
and what to read and eat.
You’re an idiot with your hatred
of authority. Then, some think
they can make you see and act differently.
They can’t. I’m sorry a parent
or just something in your DNA made
your bad attitude. Music,
drugs, bullying, neglect, poverty?
Your poverty of spirit I lack.
I’m superior. I’m an asshole.
I just don’t want someone barging in
and taking everything
and my life.