Archive: 2006.2

Untitled #161RetirementDoppleganger (Of Sorts)TechnicalityBubblegum DayWhitman, etc.Fellow Traveler

Untitled #161

They found a dinosaur heart
in South Dakota once, perfectly
preserved, still held in the
protective curves of its ribcage.
I don’t know much about hearts
outside of words like aorta
and by-pass, chambers and
ventricles. I known that some
men have plastic hearts, some
have baboon hearts, and some
rare men barely have hearts
at all. But I think that I
know my own heart and hope
that when they crack the sternum
to unearth it, the black spots
of hatred and weakness are
small and few, hope the
whoosh of air that escapes
sounds not unlike her name,
hope there is still an errant
pulse or two to beat out in
some odd jazz time, hope that
when its weighed on that clinical
scale, it's measured by more than
just ounces and pounds.

Retirement

Retirement won't be spent in the
tropics or on a costly cruise, won't
become a blur of early-bird dinners
and Wednesday afternoons at the
center. It'll be a stack of books
chest-high and the time to finally
read them, treasures rescued from
garage sales and discard racks,
from dusty shelves and bargain
bins, a second life-time of Don
Quixote and Joyce's "Ulysses",
of "War and Peace" and "Gravity's
Rainbow", of Vonnegut's every last
word and Garcia Marquez's first.
The end will come in a hail of words
and hopes, arguments and their
counters, a book a day to keep the
dementia away and a plan to die,
if not, learned and famous, then,
at the least, very well-read.

Doppelganger (Of Sorts)

There, but for the grace of a headstrong
sperm and its receptive egg, go I -
walking a warehouse path, pocketfuls of
good intentions and hell to pay for them,
the right thing having left me to count
all the ways that I've been wrong. My
doppelganger, of sorts, sees the same
people, give or take, year after year,
stays in the strangled neighborhood
with its free-floating cancer cells and
decaying factories, an imperfect formula
of pride, tradition and stubbornness,
a beer, a shot and any reason for just
one more. In passing through on visits,
I see my unacknowledged twin, my
cosmic double, and know his thoughts,
his cursing of the well-traveled road,
his patient waiting on some fortunate
accident, the one that will bring down
money from the sky, the closest he'll
ever get to an escape plan.

Technicality

Technically,
she never said yes,
never accepted my proposal
just hugged and kissed and loved
me in the shower after I wordlessly
offered up her family ring, the
one that required three glasses
of wine and the encouragement
of her sister, the one that's made
it through several generations already.

Technically,
she never agreed, all those years
ago, to take my family name and
all that it implied, to ride the
roller coaster of my moods. But,
as I've come to find out, sometimes
technicalities work in your favor
and, sometimes, they just don't
matter at all.

Bubblegum Day

The bags are barely packed and
his office has already been
stripped like a stolen car,
duties parceled out with textbook
efficiency. It's a wave we're riding,
it seems, doing more with less,
draining blood as we all slowly
petrify, wooden and cold,
the worth of staying versus
the value of leaving.

The ten-year-old in my house
has different concerns, though,
a separate agenda altogether,
a summer camp ritual of bubblegum
on Wednesdays, sugary and sweet,
fruity and tart, his worries
buffered by a cushion of discarded
wrappers and bubbles blown too
big, nothing more important than
a bad joke and the silly fortune
contained within.

Whitman, etc.

She reads Darwin and Henry
James, Whitman and the Roosevelts,
a page of this and a chapter of
that, as rounded as the globe
itself with a passport to prove
it. Come October, the scent
of Autumn nests in her hair as
her lips assume the shade of
ripe fruit, sweet to the tongue,
firm to the touch. She loves
a good dirty joke but never
tells one, laughing with her
entire body because she means
it when the rewards are reaped
and the time is right. She is
my mathematician, my editor,
my linchpin, my role model
with perfect hips, a masterpiece
of contradiction and instinct,
the evolution of an unapologetic
hope.

Fellow Traveler

There's a spider in my dashboard,
encased and slowly giving way to
the elements, the idle needle
pointing to him like a game of
spin the bottle forever lost.

He's a small thing, no bigger than
a fingernail, really, but a rare
constant in a none-too-steady world,
witness to every conversation, every
curse, every poorly sung song.

I have no idea when he arrived,
my dead fellow traveler, but the
day will come when the sun finds
his final speck of ash and I will
once again turn my eyes to the road.