Predictably Unpredictable–Lowell Jaeger

You unlace your boots and toss them

recklessly into a corner where they land

surprisingly upright, side-by-side,

as if you had set them there purposely,

neatly, exactly like that.  What’s the odds?

you say, shaking your head in wonderment,

suspecting if you’d intended such an orderly outcome,

the miraculous boots would have collapsed in a predictable heap.


Or consider, for instance, my wife and I

one Sunday brunch in an empty roadside café.

Sit anywhere, says the waitress, Doesn’t matter.

It’s like the whole place belongs just to us,

until an after-church mix of suits and ties

and wives in fancy dress decides to gather extra chairs

around a table tight beside us.  Our salads,

sumptuous and fresh, arrive in wide bowls, each


garnished with a plump banana pepper on top.

I’ll eat your pepper, my wife says, if you don’t want it.

Sure, I say, and fork it over.  Well, here’s where

chance overrides our feeble powers of prognostication.

She bites the fat end and squirts

– from the skinny end –

a jet of green juice, which arcs upward and sidewise,

surreal and luminous, soaking the neck and bare shoulders


of the church-lady nearest us, who shudders

and gasps in utter disbelief and consternation.

It’s a big mess; a sort of bull’s-eye we couldn’t have hit

if we’d aimed.  We offer to pay for the dress,

but she says no, no, and rises to compose herself

in the restroom.  Leaving us stunned, staring

at that pepper, wondering if it had planned all this

in the first place, as if it might harbor motives of its own.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s