What I Know

She didn’t want to listen that day,
she wanted to talk
   to expand her ego, to kind of explain
   to tell me where she’d been
“You’re really very good at this”
   She meant the sex
She liked sex and was good at it herself
   but on any other level, even the physical,
   she didn’t want to be touched

Sometimes people just decide
it’s time to be a couple,
   so they try
   And then they may decide
it’s time to get married
   so they try
People are so damn fickle
   They have heart attacks, cancer, accidents and,
   almost for the hell of it, will simply change their minds

Old grandma Dora, why so inefficient?
You trudge up the steps at your advanced age
   (at the time she was 62, my age now)
   to get the milk and then you trudge down
You trudge up the steps to get the dry oatmeal
   and then you trudge down
The same fucking breakfast each day, dear, remember?
   Then you trudge up the steps to get the lemon juice,
   the sugar cubes and the coffee and then...

A difference between reality and fiction
is that in fiction, you get to taste, feel
   to actually experience (okay, vicariously) revenge
   In our lives actual revenge would cost too much
I warn you, you’ll pay and pay and pay
   for the mad intensity you crave
The organized vicious, violence of states
   isn’t revenge—it’s our essential mediocrity,
   inhumanity, brutality and disgrace

My old boss, Mel, was a true adult
I could tell because at lunch
   he always ordered hot coffee to start
   while I (you jolly, jolly kid you!) just had a fizzy diet drink
It was as though he needed that coffee
   to get through the afternoon
We never drank liquor at lunch
   True, John M, did
   but he was just a drunk

People die, said the ancient Roman sage,
for the wrong reasons,
   in the wrong places,
   in the wrong seasons,
in the wrong order...
   Sagely spoken as though people can control
when and how they die
   I would dismiss this as mere error except for one thing—
   I think of us as the elitist grandsons of Roman decadence

I couldn’t find the word for cactus in Spanish
(a bad Spanish/English dictionary and no internet then)
   So I wrote my Spanish essay
   about a “prickly plant”
which I said was always with me
   and is with me to this very day
My Spanish teacher thought this a hoot
   and told my mother “your son is a genius”
   She looked at him quizzically and smiled

Gene could take his right arm
put it over his head
   reach under his chin
   and touch his right ear
Are these the kind of artificial thoughts
   that account for too much?
It’s not what you said
   it was your tone, she chided
   She cared about my tone

She tells me not to compliment her too much
It will make her blush
   A small yellow flower erupts
   from the usual, habitual greenery
The fine women I get to really know
   often bring out the best in me
Hybrids don’t often survive
   but when they do, tough as they are,
   they rarely breed



-September 27, 2014-