Dry, sour

Dry, sour opinionated men—
their warmed over overweening brains,
these tyrannical beings—their tepid
visual clichés—trap, scold and clip one
another as if this was their special inhumane
play to engage in reciprocal disasters
She led a monogamist, stagnant life

The idea of reciprocity left her
impervious—you gave, she got,
that was it—magical days so swiftly
fade, regular days the usual ways—
a plethora of usual days
The insidiousness of their waltz
was a special pathetic briskness

In a foreign place what to us seems
beautiful leaves the natives indifferent
What they find beautiful we find
strange—our future, reverential
perspective—we would if we could
generate extensive forms of new life
like a child of glass embracing

some new theory, its impressive results
achieved with a minimum of stuff
Such was the theory of light and space
and time and of kings who are feared
and not loved, and I knew when I
fell asleep she’d disappear into
my savage, impenetrable rage   

We accept the fictional idiosyncrasy of
unpredictable inevitability, instinctually
at first, intellectually later, because the
other is just like us and cares for us
deeply or, rather, the other is nothing
like us and couldn’t care less
“You’re sad,” she said “so I thought

I’d try to make you less sad
but I couldn’t”—she wasn’t
the right person for that
We tend to idealize our parents
Take my view of Dad—to me he was
stable, brilliant, funny, a PhD in philosophy,
very diligent, good at his advertising work

looked up to by colleagues and reliable
but for others he had an angry temperament
at home especially with his first son Howard
whom he couldn’t stand, always losing his
temper with Howard, violent with Howard
who was afraid of him—at Dad’s funeral
(he died of cancer at age 40) the line of

cars to the graveyard seemed endless—
all those colleagues, all those adult
mourners, his wife, relatives and children,
including Howard, who later said how he
loathed his father and who would then
bear the guilt of surviving a man he first
looked up to and truly learned to hate

“The other is not derivative or
contingent or subject to or relative
to or limited in any way”—but
I’d be ashamed to take any comfort from
this rich and imaginative traditional account
of our god and being as might only be found in
the most probing and profound works of fiction 

-January 11, 2020-