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She sits tensely

                 1.
She sits tensely curled against my windowsill,
my lover, my one true love
Sees her wayward, wild, mocking, abrasive,
self-destructive, loud, insane teenage daughter
taken to a black car at 1:00 in the morning
against that crazy child’s will—
Tears, lots of tears
Doubts, lots of doubts, frustration
What will happen to my baby there?
Prison-like school, hopeful or frightful institution
where she’s forcefully taken for treatment
Good god lover, were you really such a weak, bad mother?
No! The tears go rigid, stick to her cheeks
Why is this life so cruel?

                2.
Ordinary existence can become
habitual, flavorless, tedious, intolerable
like a train conductor mouthing platitudes
about safety, passenger courtesy and the need
to keep our rubbish off the tracks
At one time he truly felt the aches of monogamous
devotion now quite foreign to him
It’s a mistake, young man, said the wizened,
old, sensuous French sage, to fall in love
if you lack an ample fortune
Remember the story of the witch and the streetcar,
about desires turned back upon desire
How we admired her wicked secrets
and the propulsive power of her grace

                 3.
Of course, he’s a great actor
but there’s no there there,
there’s just what you see
Don’t dig for it because there’s
literally nothing inside him
No mysteries, no profundities to perceive
You see, he puts it all out there for us
so well, there’s nothing left
We, on the other hand, marvel, relish,
play with our inconsistencies, the cacophony,
the riotous voices, loudness,
the roiling contradictions and struggle
Desire like ours doesn’t seek to be analyzed
or understood— it seeks satisfaction

                4.
I go to the celebratory business lunch for retiring B
and can’t hear much of what’s said
Maybe the expensive business
restaurant’s just too loud or maybe I’m going deaf
Mike didn’t know what I might do
when I was talented, headstrong and young
He thought I could write and might learn
to write advertising copy
My friend, the poet Richard E, disagreed
Outcasts, he said, like you and me
are both too good and not good enough
to write advertising copy
I can’t believe that I have to chip in
for this boring, overpriced lunch

                5.
Every living thing tends to try
to extend its existence
“That impossible handwriting of yours”
(in the days when people still wrote by hand)
she said, “What is it, if I may ask, an attempt
to communicate without communicating?”
He sees icicles hang and drip from the ornate
façade of an old prewar building
Theories don’t move us,
passions do—passions create theory
If grandpa admired a person he’d say
that so and so he’s a real gentleman
or that so and so, she’s a lady
These are my friends

                6.
There’s no one in this world
who loves you more than me
I love you with a mother’s love
a father’s love, a family love
(if families were ever the way
families are supposed to be)
When grandma used to call
she’d leave her angry message
on our answering machine
“Call (pause) your (pause) grandmother!”
The true humanist knows
we err so cruelly, fail each other so much,
when we confuse, as we do daily,
the absolute and the worldly

 

 

 

-February 6, 2016-