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Like funny ha-ha? Garbanzo! is a semi-quarterly review of poems and such.

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Lawrence Raab

The Truth of the Cookie

After we’d finished all of General Tsao’s chicken
I cracked my fortune cookie open and read,
Don’t romanticize that which is distant.
“Does this sound like a fortune?” I complained
to my wife. “It sounds,” she replied,

“like good advice, especially for you.”
That’s what irked me—the personal gist of it.
Certainly this was no chance occurrence.
Someone out in the kitchen had been told:
See that guy with the gray moustache?

Make sure he gets this cookie. “It’s uncanny,”
I said. “Who could know how often
I’m tempted to romanticize the past?”
“Nobody,” she answered. “Lots of people
feel that way, which is the truth of the cookie.”

A good point—yes, but not the whole truth.
“Real fortunes are always about the future,”
I insisted. “Tell me what you got.” “Someone
will invite you to a Karaoke party.”
“See!—
it’s the future. That’s the essence of the genre.”

“You aren’t leaving enough of a tip,”
she whispered. But couldn’t she tell
my soul had been touched and bruised?
“Next time,” I said, “let’s go the Indian place.
Let’s not meddle with the supernatural.”

“Oh!” she exclaimed, “that’s a great line
for a cookie—Soon you will meddle
with the supernatural.”
“No,” I replied,
though all the way home I kept wondering
how much of the past I’d want to see clearly.

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Lawrence Raab is the author of seven collections of poems, most recently The History of Forgetting (Penguin, 2009) and A Cup of Water Turns into a Rose (Adastra Press, 2012), a long poem published as a chapbook. He teaches literature and writing at Williams College.