Poems My Rat Didn't Eat

by Thadra Sheridan

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A hilarious collection of musings, stories, and rants from the troubled mind of snarky poet, Thadra Sheridan

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released June 23, 2014

Engineered by Dessa Darling at Medida Studios, "After the Bowling Stopped" engineered by Ted Vig in his basement, Photography and design by Erik Evans, Guitar by Ted Vig, Written and Performed by Thadra Sheridan

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Thadra Sheridan Minneapolis, Minnesota

Writer, Performer, Humorist, Teacher Thadra Sheridan has performed her works on stages from HBO's Def Poetry Jam to San Quentin Penitentiary. She writes a regular column on opineseason.com, and tries very hard to avoid waiting tables. Her recent film, "Waiting" recently went viral when it was picked up by Upworthy. ... more

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Track Name: Significant Other
Dear Significant Other.....
I’m sorry.
Did I say that?
You’re probably
freaked out already;
clutching your balls and checkbook
for dear life,
closing the shades and
changing your phone number
until this whole thing blows over.
I should rephrase that.
I didn’t mean
“significant”
in the sense that I
wear your letter jacket and send
Christmas cards to your parents and
TATTOO YOUR NAME ON MY ASS
No
I just mean you are significant enough to
be this poem,
and although you’re really a
generalized concept that could apply to
any number of men in my past,
I have you
specifically
in mind, and
“Dear
fill in the blank with the appropriate
fling attention grabber flavor of the month latest thing
last man I slept with”
isn’t as poetic, so:
Dear Significant Other.....
You have completely occupied every
waking moment of every thought that flits
through my TORTURED BRAIN
since you left town, which
I knew would happen,
and if I hadn’t have been so
FUCKING DRUNK,
I never would have slept with you
on the first date!
And even though my cat is dying,
and my bathroom ceiling collapsed,
that just means I think of YOU
all the time
and maybe sometimes my dying cat.
Dear You....
Dear....Guy....
Dear Mr.....
STUFF:
How I love those
careless black ringlets that
cascade around your eyes.
GOD
If you only knew what a
weakness I have for hair exactly like that.
I love the pile of poetry books you
left as a parting gift, with
personalized inscriptions I already
picked apart into
CRYPTIC SECRET LOVE MESSAGES TO ME
You see...
I have this thing, this
problem,
where I’m emotionally incapable of
meaningless casual sex, because
four days later, you
haven’t left my brain for
ONE BLESSED MOMENT OF PEACE
And that’s really a disproportional amount of time to justify
one night’s activity,
and at thirty,
I have identified
five test signs in men
to foreshadow romantic doom;
all of which
YOU PASSED.
There is no glimmer of hope
I am aware of.
OH MY GOD,
You are making me end sentences with prepositions!
I have a dying cat,
A career that takes constant vigilance,
a crippling load of debt to be dealt with,
and I have checked my e-mail
seven times today, just in case you’d written.
And even though you gave me that
weird hug goodbye that
did not involve your shoulders,
I’m running scenarios through my mind
that you’re waiting the appropriate four days to
call and confess your adoration,
or you’ll show up at my door later,
because you haven’t stopped thinking about me for a second.
I’m not saying this is the
Greatest Love the World has Ever Known.
I’m not
picking out china patterns or
practicing my name as “Mrs. Significant.”
I’m simply grasping for any shred of evidence
to keep me from feeling so
CHEAP
and situational.
Extenuating chemical circumstances
aside,
my complete lack of faith in or expectations from
any member of the male species
BE DAMNED.
Significant, my dear,
I am a sad and lonely woman who
doesn’t trust, and rarely loves.
But you caught my attention so
hard and fast, I lost my mind
for one foolish night.
But even if I’d been
stone cold sober, I would have been
VERY, VERY TEMPTED,
because in several months of
poetry and flirtatious conversations,
I
had assembled the notion that
you
are intelligent, clever, romantic, fascinating,
and hilarious.
This might have really been something.
But I did it again;
Got all ahead of myself,
Gave you an advance at a low low price all
WRAPPED UP IN SHINY DEPARTMENT STORE PAPER
And now I’m
eating myself alive with this
neurotic compulsive frenzied ridiculous obsessive pathetic
regret.
Track Name: Coffee, Dry Toast, Four Butters, Two Honeys
Monday through Friday
5:50 am,
they assemble in the parking lot
of my diner.
Always chilly at that hour, they
huddle in idling cars,
monitor watches and
stereo clocks
until 6 am open.
Sometimes,
if I wait ‘til a few minutes past,
they form an impatient line,
shifting from
foot to foot
outside the door.
Once I unlock it from the inside, they
shuffle in
to take the same chairs
at the same tables
they’ve perched
Monday through Friday
since the dawn of time.
I don’t have to ask any more, just
rattle off their orders as a formality.
Bob at the lunch counter:
oatmeal, no raisins, coffee,
cinnamon toast,
George in non-smoking:
cheddar omelette, no toast,
earl grey tea,
five in smoking with
separate tables and
one conversation:
well-done waffle with bananas,
raisin bran with skim and
half a grapefruit.
Midge takes the center four top;
Always the back left chair,
always coffee and dry toast
with four butter pats
and two honeys.
She leaves a neat stack of six dimes
every day.
If her table has been
slightly moved,
if I give her
three butters, instead of four
she will comment.
These are real breakfasts
but not real names.
I’m not protecting the innocent,
it’s just
mostly I call them
whatshisname and
whatsherface and
that idiot who throws
quarters at me, because
there’s only so much I’m willing to do
for a stack of six dimes,
and remembering your name
crosses that line.
Friday morning an
isolated trap door to the
bowels of hell opens
directly beneath
the back left chair
at the center four top.
It sucks Midge down
to eternal damnation.
That wouldn’t have happened
if she’d sat in the chair
on the right that day.
And I laugh at her receding frame
for every time she
waved me down frantically
to add a tablespoon of coffee
to her nearly-full cup,
because the fact that I’m
the only person here
to cover twenty-three
impatient, demanding regulars
just doesn’t factor in
to her tiny
coffee, dry toast,
four butter, two honey
mind.
She needs unwavering routine:
same time
standard chair
regular waitress
typical room temperature
“Good morning”
cup of coffee
glass of ice water
rolled silverware and napkin
delivered promptly
usual breakfast
paid for in
exact change,
leaving six dimes
piled neatly.
Unfortunately the regular girl
is on vacation this month.
And she fits nicely into this vortex,
but I can’t eat leftovers
the very next day.
I assemble twenty freelance checks a month
and wait tables from time to time,
because with nine to five under fluorescents
I wouldn’t need
a trapdoor to hell.
Al comes in around ten;
bagel sandwich with pepper jack
seven days a week.
He says some people need their routine
to maintain stability.
What the hell’s so
great about stability?
I’m rather fond of my
What’s going to happen tomorrow.
And if one day some
little whippersnapper
calls me Midge, because
she refuses to learn my
stupid name,
although she could set her watch
by my chronic meticulous
morning ritual,
I’ll take a blindfold, a cigarette,
and six to the frontal lobe, because
I’d rather check out early
in a blaze of maudlin
movie western parody
than grow steady mold and apathy
in purgatory.
Track Name: How to Make a Blockbuster Smash
Memo: from the Corporate American Film Commission, regarding standard practices for successful blockbuster film

The commission has issued the following guidelines and specifications to assist prospective filmmakers in creating a
BOX OFFICE SMASH:

Villains are encouraged to be vaguely foreign, with some unplaceable accent, or representing past enemies or known violent groups, like Germany, or the Irish Republican Army.
Be cautious not to offend anyone specific.
Be creative; try a radical faction of a militant organization.
Or, if all else fails, use a Middle Eastern bad guy.
This is always acceptable.

Corporate injustice, and corrupt politicians may be addressed only after
a fifteen year statute of limitations has expired.
This implies that things like that don’t happen any more.
Civil Rights violations postdating 1969 are discouraged for the same above reason,

although current foreign attrocities are always a cheery boost for the American public.

Any film using any form of homosexual male affection
will be labelled Lavendar Screen, which implies,
SOFT GAY PORN!

Any film using a Native American protagonist must be
* a period piece, or
* depict this character as a trusty faithful sidekick.

When addressing other “ethnic” principles, adhere to the following guidelines:
Asian: Martial Arts related, or exotic female love interest.
Latino: Loveable comic relief, or smoldering male love interest.

Any ethnic group not represented in the preceding list is not recognized by the Corporate American Film Commission.

All male principle characters must have a devoted wife or girlfriend, or find one within the parameters of the film.
Even if he is
* extremely overworked
* occupied with matters of profound national importance
* a heavy drug user or criminal
She must forgive him, and wait eagerly for his affection.
Wives and girlfriends are forbidden to leave sympathetic male characters, unless they are immediately replaced with
younger, hotter, more understanding women.

We encourage
* Machine gunfire to accompany extreme distruction of property, and massive death tolls.
* Gigantic explosions as backgrounds to sillhouetted characters;
- running in slow motion towards the camera or
- walking, if they’re really cool
* Graphic depiction of serial murder and rape

We discourage
* smart women who don’t show their boobs
* male frontal nudity, and
* criticism of Christianity

Animated films are most successful when presenting
* A tragic work of literature
* Historic event, or
* Common mythology
Severely altered to include:
* The above specified love interest, and
* A happy ending

Acceptable:
* Corporate product plugs
* All-nude strip joints
* Women as trophy sex accessories to
* Super Villains, and
* National Lampoon jocks

Unacceptable:
* male prostitutes
* abortion
* bestiality
* acne
* main characters who smoke, and
* overweight women under 35

Failure to adhere to the above specifications will earn your film the moniker of “Independant,” or “Alternative.”
It will experience a limited screening in
small movie houses, college campuses, and art galleries, or
GO STRAIGHT TO VIDEO!
Track Name: Cassidy, Where Are You?
Where is my Neil Cassady, my
sandy-haired, blue-eyed
Denver muse-prince;
dancing under the tree tops,
driving me from coast to coast,
sucking the marrow from life
and showing me how.
Cassady,
Someone was eating pistachios
at the bus stop.
I study empty shells,
awaiting the 4B.
In the movies
lipstick never comes off
on the edge of your cup,
there’s always a parking spot
right out front, and
when he loves you
he stands outside your
bedroom window in the rain,
blaring Peter Gabriel from the
boom box he
struggles to hold over his head.
In real life
he never broke up with his last girlfriend,
and I’m his inadvertent unwilling
mistress-experiment.
In real life
sweat makes my mascara run
and someone keeps swiping my shampoo
from the Y.
I bare my arms, my belly,
my back to the sun;
weighing fashion against cancer.
Sex makes me thirsty.
Mangoes taste like gasoline.
A day in the sunshine leaves me looking like
W.C. Fields.
By the time I like the way I look now,
I’ll be sixty,
looking at old pictures.
I have this theory
that the quality of a neighborhood is
directly proportional to the
amount of discarded shopping carts you find there.
There’s been one in front of my building
for a week.
On sticky summer evenings I
check my e-mail; mostly
porn links and personality tests while
the cat finds the
highest spot in the apartment,
which ends up being
the top of the bathroom door.
He just stands up there and
wishes he was higher
for a while.
Past a quarter of a century
I reassure myself there’s
ample time left, but
television distracts me from
just about anything, and
time keeps marching on.
Nearing thirty,
I find myself
admiring the lifeguard at the Y, and
the stock boy at the grocery store, and
the new waiter at work, and
I can’t remember libido
ever nagging so loudly.
When I was a kid
I passed a whole afternoon
riding the elevator
in a 50 story building.
I wish anything
could entertain me like that now.
I pass whole afternoons
tapping a pen against my teeth and
remembering the smell of crayons.
Memories lick around the edges;
fat yellow spider chrysanthemums,
like shredded softballs
on my godfather’s casket.
I grind fresh coffee every morning and
flip countless empty pages,
wishing I was
smarter and thinner and taller, but
the ice cubes melt in my drink
if I write in the sun, and
ink gets all over my fingers.
Cassady
with your tedious, labored prose,
I need your kind of inspiration.
The prince never came back
with my glass slipper.
I never met my movie star.
Life takes
work
I’m dwindling in a one-bedroom apartment with
two cats and
room in the basement
for my bike.
Track Name: Real Life in the Shower at the Y
In real life, this
sixteen year old boy
snuck into the women’s shower
at the Y.
I, naked, covered in soap suds,
he, in 3/4 length
dark green winter coat, walked
right up to me, stood
two feet away, said,
Hi, how’s it going?

You can say,
and someone did,
heh heh...smart kid,
implying they’d like to see me
naked too,
disregarding this fucking kid
assaulted me
in a place I pay
$39 a month to stand
naked and soapy,
confident and unmolested,, until the day
when he
walked through
frosted glass door with
WOMEN ONLY
prominently displayed in
block black capital letters;
leered me up and down,
pricing meat
at a butcher shop,
smiled smugly, like he was
incredibly clever and proud
of his invasiveness,
and spoke to me, like
I was wearing clothes, and
we were at a social mixer.
To him I’m not
a woman;
a fellow human being.
To him I’m a
naked woman,
which makes me a
romanticized object to be
ogled and
tell your friends later.

By now I probably
arched my back,
slicked long wet honey blond hair with both hands,
displaying perfect size D lathered breasts.
By now I smiled,
slipped off his backpack,
caressed his sporadic
peach fuzzy adolescent cheek,
and whispered,
Take me,
right here,
right now!
By now I look like a super model, which
angers me more
than my
shattered privacy.

I’m not the cover of some
fashion magazine,
expertly lit, airbrushed, and painted for your
masturbating pleasure.
I’m a real live girl
with scars and stretch marks,
washing off after a mile swim,
cooling down, cleaning
chlorine out of my hair,
so it doesn’t wreck the color,
planning the rest of my day.

Real women don’t
like to talk to
strange teenage boys
in the shower.
Real people think about
that sort of thing
for a real long time.
Real people bleed
when you cut them.
Real women anxiously watch
white tiled entryways
long after little boys
confront them.
They wash up quick,
keeping an eye out for a green coat sleeve
poking out from behind every wall.
In real life that sort of thing
changes a woman,
whether she admits it or not.

I don’t think he
realized that;
didn’t see me
in three dimensions.
He's not the only modern adolescent who
lacks such depth perception.

I pointed him out to the desk clerk
the very next day, as he
sauntered through the weight room,
like he was a
law abiding health nut with
every right to wear a
white t-shirt and
grey sweat pants after he’d
violated me the day before and
two other women
the day before that.
I don’t want to
know that kid at 25 without
teenage consequences.
I pressed charges.
I guess in real life,
when he gets out of jail,
he can tell all his friends
he talked to a
real live naked woman.
Track Name: Go Fish
I don’t have any track marks.
Hard drugs are for the cowardly and uncreative.
The only interesting thing about doing them
is not doing them any more.
I hear that’s hard.
And, maybe,
coming up with enough cash to fund a good solid
mom-busts-into-your-room, intervention, re-hab-bound habit.
But you can just scramble for rent
and save your septum.
Self abuse isn’t radical.
It’s just lazy.
You want to be real hard-core?
Do your laundry and make it to work on time.
Look at your own dying face in the mirror.
My father
chased every day of his life since thirty with a bottle of scotch.
I am not impressed.
He just saved himself the trouble
of having to raise his own children.
And everyone noticed.
Where’s the subtlety in that?
You can knock decades off your life with a little ingenuity,
and noone’ll be the wiser.
See the trick is...
Having the balls to devour your own flesh while everyone’s watching.
Now that
is BAD ASS!
Cries for help are for the weak.
I don’t even ask for directions in small towns.
Oh, I’m not saying I aint had it hard.
I’ve had to build closet organizers
to accommodate my skeletons.
But I don’t need to
torture myself with butcher knives and sleeping pills, I just
get out of bed every morning.
There are a thousand imaginative ways to push yourself to the edge.
Time is helping me along.
I don’t have patience for the maudlin and painfully obvious.
My mother is proud of her child.
I am a responsible and upstanding citizen.
But i have invented fifty-three silent killers,
and they’re eating me alive while you watch.
My therapist says.....
I DON’T HAVE A FUCKING THERAPIST!!
I write poetry
and spend that hundred dollars an hour
on new shoes.
I wear two rapes on my lapel
like merit badges.
I drink
to prove I don’t have to be my father.
At any given moment there are
fifteen monkeys
poised to jump on my back.
But not one of them can quite get a grip, because
there isn’t a drug harder to master
than self-control.
So you want to shove needles up your arm, or
whittle yourself away, vomiting ex-lax?
Be my guest.
That just clears you off my teetering path
across the winking eyelid of doom.
And I’ll be damned if I don’t make it
to the opposite tear duct.
You see in life,
you have two choices:
You can take every short stick you’ve been handed
and build crutches to limp around on.
You won’t get far,
but you’ll get pity.
Or you can use them
as a tool
to chisel a mark so deep in posterity
you’d have to sandblast right through to erase it.
I take every bad card I’ve been dealt
and play a marathon game of go fish
with the demons from my waking reality.
I run tragedy through my head
like a laundry list of reasons I’m still
walking under the weight.
I drag every fucked-up thing that’s ever happened
behind me like a dead chain gang.
And I’m not cutting one of them loose.
They’re helping me build muscle mass.
I don’t have hope.
I’ve got tenacity,
and an insight into this fresh hell that’d put a newborn puppy on prozac.
So what’re you going to do?
You going to let that demon win?
Carve “Uncle” across your chest
with razor blades and cigarette burns?
Or you going to look him straight in the eye and say,
Go Fish
Track Name: Eggs and Toast
I’m just
sitting down to breakfast;
just
hunching bleary
over my
eggs and toast and coffee,
struggling to find my
daily vertical,
fighting that
incessant growing urge to just
curl up right there.
Let sleep have its way.
Let the cats have my eggs.
It’d be great
if that was
all I had to worry about;
Who gets the eggs?
me?
or the cats?
But I’ve got to think about those eggs.
Are they free range?
Organic?
Did the chickens who laid them
lead
happy lives?
There’s nothing simple about breakfast any more.
Because vegetables and milk
are full of weird
pesticides and hormones.
And everything causes cancer,
even water.
And if it’s low-fat
it probably has some
newfangled side-effect like
anal leakage.
And meat, Jesus!
meat,
meat carries bizarre new diseases that make your
brain tissue dissolve and run out your eyeballs.
And if you think that’s all there is to it,
you live in a box,
because 8 dolphins died
for the tuna sandwich
I’m having for lunch.
My favorite candy bar displaced
4000 workers
in a small town in Ohio when
its company relocated to Mexico.
The fishermen who caught my dinner’s salmon filet
stopped off to
club some baby seals
and burn
20 acres of rain forest on the way back to port.
And the pizza place
that makes that
incredible deep dish with lots of garlic
donates money to the Michigan Militia.
SEE
I can’t have breakfast
without hurting
somebody.
All my cosmetics were tested on the raw exposed ribcage
of a live rabbit before I bought them.
All my clothes were made for ten cents an hour
by a ten year old Malaysian girl.
When I do laundry,
the detergent runs down the drain
and destroys an entire ecosystem.

The station that carries my
favorite show
won’t air pro-choice commercials.
It doesn’t want to be controversial,
but it will show
“Hope for Change” ads,
that boast an opportunity to escape being gay
The nearest dry cleaner
supports a candidate
who penned a bill
that would put the Jews back in concentration camps.
My phone company downsized
three times in the last
five years,
even though
in each one of those years,
its STOCK
SPLIT
TWICE
I’m afraid to buy toilet paper.
Who knows?
Next week
we’ll probably find they squeeze live baby sheep to make it.
And when I
fix my hair,
or drive down the street,
or turn on a lamp,

I’m probably burning more ozone,
or killing the culture of the last Indian tribe in Brazil,
or reinstating apartheid,
or giving machine guns to neo-nazis,
when
DAMN IT
all I wanted to do
was eat my
eggs and toast.
Track Name: Thadra Sheridan vocals, Ted Vig guitar - After the Bowling Stopped
Last night,
this guy played guitar on stage,
and it made me think of you, because
you play guitar on stage.
So I spent the next fifteen minutes
running a mental slide show.

LOS ANGELES:
You give me half of your egg salad sandwich
INDIANAPOLIS:
You grab me, because
the smell of gasoline on my fingers
turns you on.
CHICAGO:
We play Ferris Bueller and
follow a kids’ tour group
at the Institute of Arts
ASHLAND;
You bowl five strikes in a row.

Etcetera, etcetera....
I find this still happens a lot.
Someone’s wearing shoes, so
I think of you, because
you wear shoes.
You drink beverages.
YOU BREATH AIR!
You can see how this might be a problem.
Sometimes I just
blurt your name out loud in my apartment
for no reason
like a tourettes outburst,
and I’m supposed to write this
poem about you,
because I keep saying I’m a poet.
And I’ve been trying
for the three years since you stopped
bowling in my presence, but it keeps coming out like,

I hate you, I hate you,
I wish I’d never agreed to
date you.
or
The day you left,
the sun set for the last time,
the trees wilted,
and happy little creatures ceased to scurry.
or
My heart
is a block of frozen, solid, petrified, cold, really hard ice
without you.
or
I don’t need you.
Never did.
I CAN OPEN MY OWN PICKLE JARS
MOTHERFUCKER!!!

Oh, I can write volumes
about every little
one-night-stand-pointless-encounter-waste-of-saliva
I’ve tried to replace you, but
you?
You’re drying up the ink in
all my favorite pens.
You’re shorting out my keyboard and
hiding all my journals.
You are the quintessential cock block,
if I had a cock.
You are the ultimate writer’s block.....
No, wait, that one works.
The point is,
I know you can eat a whole egg salad sandwich,
but I appreciate the gesture.
And that stretch of 90/94
from Chicago to Rockford has
never been the same
since I drove it home from the end of time.
And when you stayed over this past spring,
you slept on the couch,
took a shower,
and left.
But it took me three days
to take your towel out of the bathroom
and five more to wash it.
I find I can’t really write about something
unless I have a little
distance perspective, but you’re still
mashed up against me like a Siamese twin.
And the kicker is
I can’t even say I want you back.
You were all shades of fiasco.
I was only on your mind if I was
waving my arms in front of you.
And having sex with you?!?
I suspect you wouldn’t have known the difference
if I had been inflatable.
And you only gave me the sandwich because you were
BEING SUCH AN ASSHOLE
So if you asked,
would I take you back? Yeah I totally would.
And that pisses me off.
But if I was with you right now, I’d be
sitting in some hotel room in New York,
getting my ass kicked at Scrabble, or
pitching a makeshift baseball game in
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
And my debt would be twice as ridiculous.
And I’d weigh a hundred pounds, because
you supplement eating and sleeping and
not in any good way.
But I wouldn’t be here.
I wouldn’t be
running my stupid life.
You are the rockstar me I’m
too impatient to wait for.
And you’ve got nothing to do with anything.
Most of my friends don’t even know what you look like.
So you’re all mine.
And a terrible kisser
and a really sore loser.
And I suspect you’ll
litter my life with
unfinished pages about the
empty spaces you
left in my apartment
for years to come.
And tonight,
when someone asks to borrow a guitar pick,
or uses the words,
and
or
the
I’ll think of you;
snapshot something somewhere
away from here and today.
Not much I can really do about that, just
thought I’d mention it, because
it was on my mind.