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The performer’s mantra

                1.
The performer’s mantra—
Everything’s positive, everything’s good
Got to put myself out there every day
True, I was bored with my wife,
bored with suburban life
I became a full-fledged alcoholic,
and smoked two packs, unfiltered, a day,
and broke a few hearts including my own—
All is okay then, useful, good
 
                2.
What’s good you ask? Listen here:
We suffer no grave illnesses
We have plenty to eat
We are neither enslaved nor exploited
Here’s what we’ve got—
a series of intimate get-togethers and partings
We are the rock, the anchor, the oasis
We collapse within each other like stars similarly
injured—lavish in our lust, affection and love
 
                3.
When he visited Poland long after the war
the distinguished, world-famous Polish born pianist
was introduced to relatives on the Roman Catholic
side of his family—an elderly aunt or uncle or two,
cousins, nieces, nephews, once, twice, even thrice
removed—young, old, grown—all, just so happy
to acknowledge their blood relationship to him
On the Jewish side no one survived
They were all murdered in the war
 
                4.
What’s that distinctive smell
as I enter Grandma’s apartment building?
Some kind of stinky cleaner used in those days
to make the floors shine
Then it was easy to please me
All the grandparents had to do
was take me and Matt to the movies
Excited for joy, together we’d jump
especially for Jerry Lewis or the Three Stooges
 
                5.
Dad’s triumphs, his success
his ups in life, never could equal
his downs in intensity
He quit his job when they promoted a dolt
who took credit for his work
He said if his boss was so stupid he didn’t
know who did the work, he’d quit
Happy ending—the dolt embezzled, got caught
and Dad, vindicated, was rehired
 
                6.
Like an actor refused a part who must say
brightly that he isn’t all that hurt, not really, no
the business report, written in mendacious
corporate speak and detail, was
exquisitely tedious, extraordinarily dull
and superior in its soporific capacities
We have our high parts and our lows
Damn you who appeal to our inherent cruelties,
our instincts for raw violence, our hates
 
                7.
Here was the stillness of eternity
Sometimes you work with the existing machinery
Sometimes you break it
Passaic doesn’t look any different now
There the sliver of a crescent moon,
silver through winter clouds
is the same
We are personalities but not just so
We are also place

 

 

 

-January 9, 2016-