October 23, 2007

John Trudell

I remember in fifth grade, you gave me that album for sports cards.
You'd stocked it with football cards, which I found bizarre. I mean
who collects football cards? But you know, things change.

I don't collect football cards, I mean, but I change. And John, it's like
something changed when you gave me that. I've noticed a certain
squareness to my jaw, a widening of my forehead, and

Sometimes in fevers I've thought of you. The last thing I remember
about you was that album. I mean, I don't remember a thing
about you from that year after Christmas.

And we spent I think another six months together in that green-walled room,
with our ancient computers with Police Quest always running on them
and that kid with the shifty eyes,

what's-his-name, who was convinced you could get into the ladies' restroom,
and spent that whole schoolyear trying. But anyway, I mean,
in fevers sometimes I've thought of you

Playing the Detroit spaghetti circuit with your big band (go, Johnny, go!),
or watching the flames (hanging-on lines) burning away your family,
or just selling football cards

(but who buys them?)

sadly watching the passing years through a dusty window,
covered with yellowing posters and hand-lettered signs,
from a little storefront on Mack.

And I wonder if you went home to my house when that fifth-grade day was
over and I went home to yours, and we've been living
each other's lives ever since. I mean,

in fevers.

October 18, 2007

Hemingway, a construction worker

"From such a vantage point a man tends to feel it is not so difficult, after all, to see the world clear and as a whole. Like many another writer, Hemingway did his best work when he felt he was standing on something solid--like an Idaho mountainside, or a sense of conviction.

"Perhaps he found what he came here for, but the odds are huge that he didn't. He was an old, sick, and very troubled man, and the illusion of peace and contentment was not enough for him--not even when his friends came up from Cuba and played bullfight with him in the Tram. So finally, and for what he must have thought the best of reasons, he ended it with a shotgun."

- Hunter S. Thompson, 1964

I know that some of us fondly hold this dream:
Hemingway staring down the Doctor over
Havana cigars and hard liquor
behind the pearly men's club doors.

But our imaginations lie. I've seen Hemingway.
He stands in a northern autumn, hard hat
over his Stetson.

Not standing on a deck, salt-spattered and windblown.
Nor in the savannah, sweat seeping from reticent pores.
Asphalt and falling leaves and the grinding of heavy machines.

October 17, 2007

One by One

Another year that smells like hospitals. Sometimes
it gets so hard, thinking that's how you
will spend your last days, and you think,
"No, I'd never consent, I'd rip out the tubes
and walk down the hospital corridors
- the antiseptic always fighting a losing battle,
that hateful pastel ceramic, the sounds of those
who can't escape. I'd splash my red blood on
those pitted floors and die on my own power!"

That's what you think.
Let me know how you feel in fifty years.
Let me know if you can breathe.