POEM 038/100

October 25, 2012

If I died this afternoon

 

—let us imagine I will be jostled off this subway platform

grimy with spilled coffee and chewing gum

into the path of an oncoming train

which causes several hundred people

{such as this guy berating the battery in his phone for being dead}

to arrive late for dinner

in snippish moods with insults perched of their tongues

ready to leap into the hearts of those seated across the table

 

my life would have amounted to

give or take

adjusted for inflation

somewhere in the ball park of

zilch

 

Well, big deal

this is not a particularly tragic or unusual truth

after all even when the most celebrated actor

shuffles off this stage they’ll leave only smudged footprints

behind them in the spotlight

and the audience

 

—already in an uncharitable mood

as she believes her date has stood her up

once more

for the last time

again

simply because he forgot to charge his phone

so can’t explain how the subway has been delayed

due an “injury at track level”

surely she’s heard about it

happens all the time in this city

Well, she hasn’t

but luckily she is in possession of the tickets

so doesn’t have to wait for him in the October drizzle

just five minutes more

{he’s just around the corner now}

and is able to put her coat and bag in his empty seat

which is kind of nice, actually,

and on her other side is a young man

cute, in a malnourished sort of way,

whom she nudges with her wedgy elbows and —

 

mutters conspiratorially about how dusty the stage had gotten

during that last dreary, interminable, unfocussed, trite monologue

 

—did the producers really think they wouldn’t notice?

she asks her new friend

who glances down, uneasily

at the hand she’s placed on his forearm

an action which obliterates from his mind

before he can fully wrestle with

the meaning behind the actor’s monologue—

 

None of our lives

{or deaths}

have been

{or will be}

particularity tragic

{or unusual}

or meaningful

{or meaningless}

 

But today

on this subway platform

grimy with spilled coffee and chewing gum

this truth bothers me a great deal about myself


Glass fragments

May 19, 2010

There had been a storm the night before and she’d forgotten to close the window in the living room. On the floor, in a pool of water gleaming with morning sun, are shards of glistening black glass, the remains of a goblet she’d acquired sixteen years ago.

On the shards she can see fragments of silver text: Bea; mmer; ’94; and Th; uty; ea; e B; Su; st. She knows what the letters spell out. Despair. Doubt. Drama. Paranoia. Betrayal. Love. Friendship. Laughter.

Notes from a lesson. Notes she’s carried with her for a decade and a half for a course that only ends when you die. It doesn’t matter if you pass or fail the final exam, she’s come to understand. Only that you show up to class. Learn the lessons. Keep the notes.

Notes. Musical notes. Little black dots of glass on staffs of wood grain. A score. She scans the measures on the floor but happenstance hasn’t created a masterpiece. Only a chaos of discord. Much like that summer.

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