Wednesday, May 22, 2013


V. (cont.)

May 22

If it's not later, it must be now.
Or so we'll say when the procession begins.
Unison brings out the best in some people,
the rest shall keep as they are,
or maybe take a few drags on a Djarum
and reminisce about how we all
liked what we liked then.

She said she found his hand on her thigh,
uninvited.  Thereafter, a shambles
of all that high-minded sham,
as if pierced with insight, again.
Men will be boys, always prepped
for some great anointing, riddled
with gifts out there in the sticks,
planning on someday making a comeback
with a discourse on confidence tricks,
what we mean when we say “deficit.”

Were you hoping for something original,
like an effort made on behalf of us all,
a tower with high-toned gables
so we might move in next door?
There are reasons they're leaving
and won't look back, but taut silk
and blousy muslin have nothing to do with it,
those are simply signs of indeterminacy,
of forgotten persons, like Einstein's daughter,
or phantom entities like Prester John.
We've stacked the chairs before the door,
have gathered hats in case of rain,
distributed tops and blocks and kites,
and stored the nunchuks, shivs,
and brass knuckles with the boomerang.

Inventory is the secret god
of mercantilism, or that's what

we were told at sleep-away camp, those
gladsome days among the pines, the water

mind-numbingly cold, and the cabins
humid at twilight.  Printed photos kept

our identity intact until now,
as the light comes up outside the window

we realize at once how much the others
depend on us to maintain discipline

and not simply shrug off discomfort,
for without the fresh eyes of dawn,

the round mouth of night, the trick thumb
of noon we'd have expired for sure,

unaware of chat-room protocol, teams,
and all the guests that come with them,

many with attractive gadgets
that need to be recharged.  No surprise,

the plaster dust got in the gears
and made the clock wheeze.  A joke

at first some thought it, but later
as if in a trance or on a commercial,

we took stock of the staff cuts,
the pay stubs, the circulating sheet

for signatures.  Eventually,
officers came and carted him away

in an ambulance, but for an hour
Dave lay oblivious to us all on the steps

of that sustainable shop, swallowed,
we could say, by the abyss behind

the eyes, or afloat on the unruffled brow
of an ageless, nameless god.

These days parking lots
are filled more often than not,
near theme parks and airports.
People gather
when they travel,
hand themselves over,
to a uniformed contingent.

When the doors open,
we find ourselves
somewhere else—
reason enough
for shared fantasies,
flashes of sudden
or claustrophobia, the odd drop
in air pressure or explosion.

The quiet of the street is quite inspiring,
this late.
            On the shadowy patch of pavement
the odor of the trees closes in.
                                                One feels—
if attentive—as if one's head is in a pine box,
oh how cozy.
                        Like a tunnel, you know
you're through it when you are.
                                                Every step
creates a space for itself, have you noticed?
And every voice joins its face in creating
a unity, a gestalt, a game of matched attributes.
We're mostly trading laughter when we're not
comparing maladies, aches and pains, losses,
and where to get a good deal on drugs.

What's rare, it seems, is interpersonal continuity.
Those we recognize may surface at any time,

others are too far back to reappear easily,
and still others reside like a low hum in the ear,

so constant you can easily overlook its presence.
But the ones hardest to account for we forever

associate with a particular time and place
that, no matter how vivid, lively, and suitable

for framing, slips away into a special folder
rarely opened, though there's no cause for alarm,

yet.  In most cases, the contents will emerge
unscathed when called upon—but sometimes

we find it empty, nothing appears, and we're
shocked to admit we've seen the last of it.

Rounding up what pleases you
shouldn't be as selfish as it sounds,
you can always remove the hard drive
and make it a paper weight or door stop,
hedge your bets, collect your funds,
withdraw your support, withhold
your vote, remove all traces
of your participation except
the minimal ID tags, your
uncanceled check, soft
money, last words.

Standing flushed at the party
as the lights come up may be briefly
disappointing, but how elated you'll be
at finding yourself among the others.

That's the way I'd always remember myself if I were you.

©Donald Brown 2010/2013

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