We talk to ourselves. We breathe half-empty air.
Our loins ache, smothered in business suits.
Our spirits struggle up through cracks
in the corporate monolith, like flowers breaking
through the concrete for their moment in the sun.
As we sit and stare out the window, we wonder
who the ‘they’ is that benefits from this travesty,
this slow train-wreck of a life.
Just on a whim one day, he drove his car off the road
and, unsuccessfully, up a tree. As if there were an
invisible virus afoot, people started acting out—
nonchalantly throwing glass bottles up in the air,
frat party-style, but stone cold sober, 10 am.
Then a nose tweak, an arm yank, the sudden
stink of smoke, smoldering underfoot.
As chaos cascaded around us—crashes, yells, moans—
we finally understood the value of civilization’s
thin veneer—too casually, and too soon, abandoned.
Playing by himself, the little boy was happy,
humming, watching the truck carom
around the corner under his fingers.
As his sister came into the room,
the world he had created quietly shut down.
They were friends, but it was a rare person
who could see the value of his world
and step into it with him.
Spirits sagging like the bulbous belly
of a bogus sidewalk Santa,
he gave his Christmas wishes
with half a heart—the other half having
been picked apart by the birds’ beaks
of repeated insults to his self-respect.
Silence reigned at the dinner table.
Thoughts emerged and were quickly expunged
by everyone present. The echoes of each one’s filtering
quietly bounced around the room, as we dealt with
the news of his demise.
The record player needle sits too lightly in its groove.
When it arrives at a slightly sticky spot, it jumps,
starting up again at a new, random, place.
Round and round it goes, but rarely seems able
to dig down and own its own revolutions.
I look around my internal room—it seems that
some Repo Man, enforcing cosmic laws too inscrutable
for me to grasp, has removed all but the barest
of furniture while I was otherwise occupied.
Having been unceremoniously dumped by my
‘reminding angels,’ all that remains is
just a whiff of their celestial scent.
He suddenly remembered what he had learned in karate—
that snapping back was the point, the aim, of any action;
that each moment had to be sacrificed, let go of,
for the next one to appear in all its fullness.