Bruce Bennett


Backup Plan: Alternative Version

Backup Plan

If I were single once again
(not that I’m really planning, dear),
I would indulge! Like other men,

I’d bag the low-fat regimen
and live on burgers, ribs and beer.
If I were single, once again

there would be Fritos in the den,
and napkin rings would disappear.
I would indulge like other men,

not shave or floss, and sleep past ten.
My feelings could be insincere.
If I were single once again,

and free to leave the seat up when
my heart desired, it is clear
I would indulge like other men—

although I would be helpless then,
and yearn for your return. I fear
if I were single once again,
I would indulge like other men.

—A.M. Juster (First published in Light, c. 2005)

If you were single once again
(although you are not planning, dear),
I would be too! Then other men

could be part of my regimen,
despite their burgers, ribs and beer.
If you were single once again,

then I could spread out in my den.
My stuff wouldn’t have to disappear.
I could indulge in other men.

I’d set an upper limit—ten,
perhaps? Of course I am sincere.
If you were single once again

The seat would never be up when—
well, you know when. I’d make it clear
I wouldn’t indulge those other men

As I do you, my love. But then,
it’s all a joke with you, I fear.
I won’t be single once again.
You’ll stick around, like other men.

The Poet at Tax Time

My wife, who does our taxes, thinks I’m daft.

“You paid how much” to enter this or that?

It is my lot to suffer for my craft,
and if it costs me—us—well, I am at
the point where I say, That’s just how it is.
That’s what I do, and if I have to pay
to do what I was born to do, whose bus-
iness is it?

But that isn’t what I say.

I don’t say anything. I hide my head
and wait until we let the subject go.
But it comes up again.

“And these?

of answering, I calmly let her know
that I am guilty, yes, but come next year
I’ll make so much that we’ll be in the clear.

Bruce Bennett is the author of ten books of poetry and more than thirty chapbooks. His most recent chapbook is A Man Rode Into Town (FootHills Publishing, 2018), reviewed here. He is Professor Emeritus of English at Wells College. His poetry website is