Susan Hayden

Average American

“The journey toward the run-of-the-mill has never been so remarkable.”


I fell in love with the Average American:

Joe Six-Pack/John Doe/Homer Simpson/Joe Shmoe

Heels worn down, work-pants ripped

He slipped into the bourgeois existence

with little or no resistance from me

Women’s intuition, written in chalk

underlined and then erased

Defaced, negotiated as reason

This offense will be named Heart-Treason

The Defendant shall rise and then fall

Rise and then Fall

I fell for it all

The Jesse James goatee and Buddha belly

The Man in the Street, wearing shorts at night

The “more than one fight” 

that broke and broke and broke his nose

The repose of the threadbare

The utter lack of self-care

The gold-filled crown of oblivion

The Heavyweight-Lightweight 

two-year-date with an undisputed non-champ–

a Lava Lamp with no incandescence

I fell for his misunderstood essence;

his fear of having nowhere to land

I gave him my hand and said, “Here, hold this..

Hold me, I’m Here”

Anything to reinforce the core belief 

that my presence and attention to those in need 

is foolproof, human First Aid

the big Band-Aid

And I confess 

to becoming Loretta Lynn in a torn lace dress

on her knees, pleasing her sociopathic prince:

A middle-aged slacker with no self-worth, no self-esteem

the ever-changing, dismantled dream

Sleeping, overeating, smoking, drinking 

24-hour-TV watching and partyin’

Partyin’ with no “g”—Mellow and dizzy

like a college student on a front lawn couch

like a low-budge slouch on that show, Intervention

and what I fell so hard for was of my own invention

Clearly, of my own invention

It is my own radiant heat and rapid heartbeat 

that seem to magnetize me to the Cold and Hungry

This was high desert, gutter snipe, puppy mill style

And I was duped and fleeced but just for a little while

I submitted to the pull, the velocity of grief

seeking revival and relief from all that had gone numb

He was the Rum and Coke of Love

Above his bed, lithos of uncharted peaks–snowboard art

His desk, in part, ashes and butts, half-smoked joints

and  a fake, flameless candle

And he, with make-believe, minor chords of intimacy

his misery index and lengthy sex without technique

would reek from American Spirits and skunk

I fell for a fast-food, reality-show punk;

a rapper’s rope chain, worn in, without the bling

Finger Lickin’ Good, Where’s the Beef, Wake Up With the King

I fell for reasons I have yet to comprehend

but the Skid-Row fairytale has finally ended;

the free-loading swindler, kicked to the curb 

where he lay in wait in a Westside suburb 

for the next money-bags to bail him out  

No doubt, what should have been a one-night, emotion-free fuck

was instead, 700 days of bad luck (and then some)

A-Bum-With-An-Agenda, at once scheming and mundane

leaving a mile-high mess of wasteful remains

until Wednesday, Trash Day

Average American, big screen and a remote

A hoodie instead of a proper coat

An unmade bed,

the mush of Memory Foam

All of this, all of it

to procrastinate the inevitable,

my learning to sleep Alone.