Saturday, May 9, 2009

Day 7

I am less sure about today's contribution than I have been about anything I have written so far in this series. So I will say nothing about it, specifically, by way of explication: I will simply append it to the end of this post.

In a related development, after writing this stanza, I had a clear vision of where the rest of the story is going, as I was walking up Strawberry Hill Avenue this evening, enjoying the bright green grass, the cigarette-singed dogwood blossoms, and the viciously vibrant azaleas. I am not sure I am going to be able to tell the whole thing in 31 stanzas, but I have worked out the trajectory of the piece. I even have composed the ending, or at least I have begun experimenting with endings. I also came up with a tentative title for the story, 'Takaaki.' A name familiar to some of my readers.


I may also need to review my present selections for my book. In looking over the table of contents this afternoon, I see a way of adding this piece to it that will strengthen the whole collection, if executed properly. As I always do in this blog, I am thinking out loud here, and nothing is written in stone. But I am starting to get that little dorsal tingle skittering down my spine telling me I am on the right track.

Anyway, here is day 7.

Part I

I’d love a pair of bold anfractous rocks
Set somewhere in Cyclades—a spot
Totally removed from Time. No clocks.
I’ll take an afternoon in August, hot
Enough to melt an erlenmeyer flask;
We could emerge from a cool underpass
And catch a guitar weeping, an old song,
A crowd of children shrieking, a Great Lawn,
Surrounded by suits with someplace to be
Hurrying to different destinations!
“Who comes to Central Park on their vacations?”
I would implore a poor, demented bee
Circling a can of garbage going sour.
Surely, God would not begrudge an hour

Of timelessness unto Humanity—
His representatives on Earth. He must
Have made us and forgotten us. Maybe.
How else would you explain the missing bus,
The leaky awning, and the pouring rain,
This longing to be elsewhere? Hence, the plane
Landing on a distant isle in Greece—
Ahead of schedule—the Cyclades—
Bathed in Hellenic blue. And far below—
Almost invisible on the white beach—
There is a tempting red umbrella which
I am convinced belongs to me; although,
It could be a reflection from the ad
For Travelers Insurance, which is bad-

Ly flirting with me from across the street.
A fault in one of its florescent lights—
Flutter. Flicker. Blackout. And repeat:
Ad infinitum. How I hate these nights!
These buses! Cold rainwater in my shoe!
To say I hate New York would not be true.
We have a strange relationship, I’d say,
We need each other, sort of, in the way
A sad, sadistic cop requires a good,
But slightly stupid, buddy on the force
To buy Budwiesers for him, post-divorce,
And hear how he has wrecked his life. It would
Make a fine, redemptive movie script,
Down to the last, cheesy tortilla chip.

For now, a cone of pink chrysanthemums—
To match the dozen frosted donuts I
Picked up from Dunkin’ for dessert—some
Blocks back, before Zeus unzipped the sky—
Will join our little shopping list. “How
Much are these flowers,” I ask the fellow
Sweeping up the petals, thorns and leaves
He has been pruning. “Not the roses—these,”
I point sharply at the mums again.
The chalkboard with the prices on it had
Suffered, like my patience, from the mad
Downpour. Slowly the young Mexican
Lifts five green fingers in front of his face—
His exhausted face. What a place

To hide such beauty. “Yes, I’ll take those, thanks,”
I mutter softly, with embarrassment,
Pulling out a wet ten, with two yanks,
Sending a quarter rolling down the pavement,
Directly to the gutter—not the drain.
It sits on the grate, shining in the rain
Atop a flattened cup—a blue pancake—
Supporting crooked lettering I make
Out to read, ‘Happy To Serve You.’
Precisely who is happy to be serving
Whom lies beyond my powers of observing
Because of how the cup is crushed. In lieu
Of other parties with a claim to it
I give the fingers a five-dollar tip

And go retrieve my quarter from the cup,
Before somebody else does. In this town,
Some things are too precious to give up.
A lucky coin can turn your life around
Like that: Fortune rota volvitur,
Rolling toward the sewer, your last quarter,
While on “The Wheel of Fortune” someone spins
Above a pyramid of oranges. Who wins?
Who cares? I have my quarter and I’m glad.
The best ten dollars that was ever spent
By any man beneath the Firmament.
Do I exaggerate? Perhaps a tad.
But just a tad. The boy with the green hand
Turns Pat Sajak into a salsa band

Just by changing channels on TV.
Just think of all the money that we could
Save on drugs and psychotherapy
If human hearts came with remotes? Your mood
Is altered by just tapping on your nose,
And fine-tuned further, peeling off damp clothes,
And fiddling a little with a nipple.
A politician still might come and cripple
Sex, occasionally, and football
Pre-empt a dreary real-life drama,
With dancing linebackers, or a bomber
Blowing up an airplane force us all
To interview a few friends’ families:
But we could always turn off our TVs

And go on playing games with our remotes.

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