Would Pasquale give you an earful?
Only if the homing device cuts out,
leaving him stranded, up to his ears in corpses,
and you the man on the desk. Careful
with all that extra camouflage,
the moment to touch base is long past
and these bridges to Berkeley
or what have you less likely than ever.
But that never stopped you before,
as long as you can drown out
her mewling voice with concertos,
it all may come right in the end
whatever that means, I mean,
I surely can't say, you be the judge,
I'll be the executioner. Even if not,
funded architects may have their day
and structure our lives with blueprints
however distinct from what we really want.
Tulips emerge all along the path
while touring a rain-drenched park in Harlem.
Draconian measures for snakeheads, hey what?
Oh sure, if you cried nightly, it was only to gain time,
to keep open a landline, palm raised to salute
the last stragglers with their shopping carts,
ready to accept the moment sans gratuité,
with no further bulletins from temple or brothel.
Her nose bespoke a certain breeding
but the butt in her pants was anybody's business,
a personal greeting reserved for bold onlookers.
We were happy enough to be asked to foxtrot,
braced in advance for the final twist.
A flood of ice might overwhelm the unwary.
Come to me again. Shake off your tail.
His stubble is so apparent and his suit
swims on him. Such gall to be so measly.
But then humidity has overwhelmed
more than a few participants. Filled to capacity
but once, we now accept pension vouchers
and balance our budget with noble chicanery,
the kind we were taught in that classroom
above the palm trees, city of the surf.
And when we finally accepted the need
to take these upstarts seriously, our grasp
of the grassroots privilege had already passed,
causing our leaders to depart in haste, alert
to the indignity of being the last one on the bus.
The loose talk in the union shop was catchy,
playing at quoits with daggers drawn, cranks
and gears fully visible though by now decades old.
Can you expose yourself if nobody's looking?
“I, me, mine,” you know,
the familiar song, not the one you hummed
to her on her cell, no, the one
she downloaded and shared. In waves,
they say, it comes, the nouvelle, the vague,
all that. Sans blague. Rita
said her leg cramps were legendary
that year, really held the team back
but they loved her anyway, what with that
adorable squint. After I get my crown
I'll go—no, on my tooth, you idiot.
Tell me again, where did you go to school?
Some in sunglasses, some in raincoats,
boots or sandals, caps or hats,
backpacks, briefcases, and so on.
Everyone on this trip must return to Start,
say “madam, may I” or “follow that cab!”
and not forget days in the barn in Charlesville,
nights at the turntable, afternoon exercises
at the conservatory, all stamped
with the livid light of the senses, engraved
on plates, printed by hand, mailed to minors.
I don't care who he is, if he talks to you
again that way, I'm having him depilated,
dipped in tar, treated to rotgut whiskey.
I don't know how else to say it or why
I should. It's his loss, my pleasure.
Glad to hear of your narrow escape,
angel, but there’s no escaping the fact
that closed the tracks till further notice.
©Donald Brown 2010/2013