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Scott Owens

Perfection's Bedroom

The Man in Love with a Job Well Done

Hospital Corners

Perfection's Bedroom

She stands alone in the room she saves
for perfection, back straight, shoulders squared,
white linens, feather comforter,
everything clean. Sheets pulled
in hospital corners so tight and undisturbed
the dropped quarter bounces twice.

On the wall the simple lines of Gainsborough
and Turner, pure pattern of white on white.
On the stereo nothing but Sinatra, Bennett,
Cole. The shelves hold Blue Delft,
white porcelain, simple crystal.
The desk and bed, mahogany.

She avoids the sloppy mess of love,
enjoying immaculate surroundings:
in the lamp, emeralds and rubies,
in her cup, pure water,
in her box of dreams,
nothing -- a speck of dust.

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The Man in Love with a Job Well Done

He uses the little broom to get between things,
leaves the counter clean, picks up after himself
or anyone else who comes around.  He doesn’t mind
cleaning toilets, washing clothes, mowing the lawn

as many times as necessary.  He always caps the pen,
rinses the sink, folds his clothes along the seam.
He scrapes his plate clean, leaves his shoes at the door,
always says excuse me, pleased to meet you, thank you.

He covers all the bases, keeps things where they belong,
closes the lid, brushes his teeth three times a day,
sets your alarm, makes the tea the way you like it. 
He’ll never forget your birthday, be late for anything, lose

the keys, steal the sheets, call you the wrong name.
He hates to see the good plan fail, has problems with people
who don’t follow through.  He obeys all the rules,
keeps his place in line, always finishes on time.

The good citizen, he votes each year, donates to charity,
reports whatever he sees to the proper authorities. 
He always thinks of what people might say, wants to know
who made him this way, what right they had to do so.

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Hospital Corners

Orient properly.
Balance side to side,
top to bottom.

Smooth out unpleasant
ridges, bumps,
uncomfortable imperfections.

Wrap corners like a bandage
unrevealing anything
that might be thought of

as intimate, unattractive,
somehow less than finished.

Bind one side with the other
so nothing hangs
loose or free.

Tuck all excess
(growth, desire,
expression) away.

Once made,
lie in it like you like it,
held tight

to a bed that disallows
movement, breath,
rampant possibility.

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Author of 7 collections of poetry and over 800 poems published in journals and anthologies, Scott Owens is editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, Vice President of the Poetry Council of North Carolina, and recipient of awards from the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Academy of American Poets, the NC Writers’ Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC. He holds an MFA from UNC Greensboro and currently teaches at Catawba Valley Community College. He grew up on farms and in mill villages around Greenwood, SC.

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