Basic Needs

Maslow,
That brilliant bastard,
Broke life
Into measurable sections.

One of those categories,
Perhaps the most relevant,
Is his concept of “Basic Needs.”

There is a clearly defined
Set of generic boundaries
That dictate
And outline
The slices of life
Above and below
A basic need.

Some of those very basic of needs include:

A roof.
A plate of food in the evening.
An apple for breakfast.
Some friends to call when you’re down
Or need money —
Enough to pay the electric bill.

I, however, get caught up
On the personal interpretation
Of a “basic need.”

It wasn’t until I lived alone
For a very long time
That I was able to identify
The things I really needed to survive.

It wasn’t much.

But I feel like
There is a sub-category
Worthy
Of honorable mention
That some might refer to
As “Personal Preference.”

At 24, living alone,
I hadn’t established
A personal preference
For things like
What type of soap I would use.

At 24, I was grateful
For a threadbare shred
Of a once solid bar of soap
To scrub my pits and unmentionables.

At 24, I established a strict regimen
Of utilitarian directives.

I recognized that sitting
Was an inevitable pastime
So I acquired a lawn chair
With plastic collapsible legs
And an army fatigue canvas
For my ass and back
To rest on.

It went well
With my army green
Blow-up mattress
And satisfied
My basic need
For furnishings.

Today, many years past,
I showered beneath a waterfall
Of steaming, crystal clear
Hydrating streams of fresh
Mountain water.

As I gazed
At the alluring white fabric
Of an engulfing shower curtain
That cocooned me from the rest of the world,
I was reminded of the last time
I stood in [rather, on]
A claw-foot bathtub.

The drain had become clogged
Likely due
To the discarded hair
Of (a) prior tenant(s).

Rather than stand
In a putrid swamp
Of soapy water
With bits of long hair
That was not mine
Swimming around like water moccasins,
I stood naked on the edges of the tub
And hunkered down
To squeeze beneath the showerhead
And hoped
That I wouldn’t slip in and break my back.

Today,
That is not my lot.

Today I reek of Malin+Goetz
Peppermint shampoo
And eucalyptus extract.

Today my basic need
To be cleansed
Has been satisfied
And I am okay with
My preference
For an indisputably
Higher degree
Of olfactory
Lingering
That will
Undoubtedly
Fall upon those
Who I pass as I follow
My calling to disembark
The number 12 at 40th
And Hollywood
In the pouring rain
To spend my sopping wet evening
With Lady Portlandia.

Benjamin Green © 2012

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