Tuesday, June 13, 2006



A hank of newspaper, reef of white foam

broomed by wind into the corner

where the kung fu dojo and drug store

met, at least in my peripheral

sight I thought it to be a child’s slipped

sock or some other bit of nothing

anyone might ever miss. Looking

up, it was a plane I watched,

thinking of Chicago, a Vietnamese

restaurant which served

steamed catfish in a bowl made of river

clay. Looking up, clouds

distracted me from that city

and that meal, that night

threaded by the shudder of elevated trains,

looking up, whatever

the weather might become

in the next hour

addled me, the song that piped down

from the ceiling eased

my forgetfulness

but not the headache which felt like

the neighbors were pitching garbage from the roof

again, or setting fire

to something living,

webcasting the conflagration

and me fighting the urge

to look, to watch, to not think

of the next poem

or the girl buying Chinese food

for the first time

in her young life,

asking my help with the menu,

one more mystery

over which I’ll pretend vague

mastery, if only

that she not be hungry or alarmed

by all the ignorance

I’m saving for the afterlife

where such a condition has been promised

to be useful. See how

I’ve forgotten whatever it was

I did not see watching children

practice how to strike

me down, how to crush

my windpipe with ruthless beauty,

how to leave me

to imagine at last the limits of mercy.

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