Did you get American Idol’s steel-toed boot
because your cheeks were rounder
than your co-host’s: scoops of mashed potatoes

versus swordfish steaks? Was your hair to blame:
flaccid brown moss, versus a spiked bed-of-nails?
Was it your name—Punk/Bunk/Funk/

Clunkelman? Are we what we rhyme with,
Junkelman, Gunkelman, Hunkelman of...why
go on? No dunkin’ donut could compete with Ryan

Seacrest’s crashing blue, able to capsize
cruise ships and careers, your life a stove dinghy,
Sunkelman: ripped sails, a motor full of eels.

Still, it could have been
you munching cupcakes
he chews a bagel-with-grasshopper-
tobacco. It could have been you in

tonguing strippers to prove you’re not gay—
you buying a gated mansion from Wink Tinkler
The Vice is Nice—not partners in obscurity

with Millard Fillmore’s 1849 opponent—not
featured on
It Bites To Be You, watching Seacrest
sip ambrosia while you suck on a dish towel.

I’ve wondered, too, Brian,
Why him and not me?
I’ve screamed to heaven, Tell me what I have to do!
When Fortune slipped on your sidewalk,

you should have helped her up, then offered a martini
and massage. Fame’s mermaid famously strikes
tinseled flashers, letting Merit troll, unnoticed, by.

You should’ve shouted, “Hi, Gorgeous, I’m Sven
Tsunami, son of Bulgin Pectoralis, dropped
onto this rapacious earth to service you.”
Charles Harper Webb's latest book is Shadow Ball: New & Selected Poems
(University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009).
What Things Are Made Of, also from Pitt, is
forthcoming in 2012. Recipient of grants from the Whiting and Guggenheim
foundations, Webb directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at California
State University, Long Beach.