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Potato Cannon

Todd Clason

Actually, Steve has two potato cannons, the broken one
leaned on the outdoor pool table, and this, with
machined aluminum joints between the plastic PVC
breech and barrel that Todd Fee made. It's true

I'm only here as a sidekick to a friend, but I remember
these guys from grade school, admire them for
obsessing. Just look at all of their gadgets,

the jukebox wired with Stone Roses and Shriekback, a
line of hanging plastic skulls blinking with phone rings,
black and white checkerboard on the kitchen floor,
spreading strangely up the fridge,

they even brewed the beer on tap in the garage; Dante
made it to the library for the first time looking for recipes.

Wait, I think Steve is aiming the cannon—I like to imagine
him calibrating the trajectory against constellations,
although there isn't much to see of the sky under the
awing, and this November isn't clear.

But the exactness of his preparation, mashing wide
Michigan potatoes down the barrel with a broken pool
cue, just two squirts of White Rain hair spray with
enough ether to explode, this precision

can distract me from the slowness of seasons, help the
seeing into days past, when I forgot to look for potential
explosions, not gazing long enough at the two Chicago
girls washing at the Manistee

Laundromat, finishing another bibliography instead of
sitting on the Oleander's headstone for the setting sun.
And it isn't sadness or lass that makes me silently
memorize Steve's sparker mechanism and drink his

yeasty beer; it is an attempt to learn a simple moment,
to name the expression bent on the eyebrows of
passing women, to slow myself from all the necessary
plans of the future and sit down hard and drunk in a
single day.

The neighbors wonder about the chest-thump sounds,
though, and every so often the cops drive by.

Steve fires the cannon far out into a GM parking lot dimly
lit with Sulfur lights. We laugh and reload, but I wonder if
the falling potatoes still hold some vegetable energy,
some organic acid to eat through fractured concrete

down to dirt, water and chance. I shut my eyes and
listen in the sound of dwindling energy, forgetting about
who is watching an how I fit in with this long division of
friendship; this is just a moment.

In the distance, the starchy blank essence of Steve's
potatoes will send out green shoots from ruined
projectiles. And maybe this resilience will grow.

Doodle by John Schilling.

Loafer's Magazine

"No Skepticism"

#14 Holiday 2005

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as always,
Mix D. Mixford
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