Tracking

The new UPS driver looks like he’s been working his way down the corporate ladder.
I think he looks too old for a package car and he looks like he’s about my age
and finally: I’ve seen him looking younger.

It was 1982.
He hung an offensive nickname on me
that spoke of something I’d never even seen, much less done,
and I wore it like the proverbial badge marked Chicken Inspector
or I Felta Thi.  How mightily
we called it out when pinching female freshmen’s bottoms.
What cards we were. What utter shits.

In the synapse it takes for me to remember all this,
he has called me by that name again, laughing as
he clicks a touchscreen to note the exact time and place
the package was delivered.
I turn around to make sure my staff hasn’t heard it
and he laughs again. Hey, add me on Facebook!

The Dream of My Grandfather’s Return

My grandfather at the dinner table of his son-in-law’s farmhouse:
Saltines, sardines, turkey sandwiches, potato salad, jello molds.
The progressive potluck of his hardtack life, coming as it did
toward something like luxury.

The luxury was to sit down – all of his sons and daughters
under the roof, everyone getting along. My father telling
a story about the 1950s that everyone there
except the grandchildren lived through. Laughter.

Even in my dream I am the little man
who has to point out the obvious.
Whispering to him, so as not to upset everyone:
“Granddaddy, you’re dead.”

He gave me a disappointed look,
which I at first took for embarrassment.
We were suddenly in a field.
It could have been Egypt, but it followed the contours
of my uncle’s pasture. A sunset of the deepest indigo,
a cross in the distance.
Not the cross at the top of the church,
nor an old rugged cartoon rendition,
but two perfect lines of darkness
intersecting above the crest of the hill.
Neither one of us spoke a word.

I have never dreamed of him since.

Helping Someone Name a New Company

for Marianne Moore

We sought a short word or noun phrase which was
unique, easy to pronounce, spelled like it sounds.

It had to convey something of the business without boxing it in,
and of course not already taken: domains, twitter, facebook,
nor have unfortunate interior spellings like newspaperverts or the like.

Lacking millions of dollars worth of television
coining a word and teaching everyone to say it wasn’t an option,
which let out the synthetic sounds of pharmaceuticals:
Gornext, Lytexia, and Nambivala, to give away
a few derivative examples.

The final result has the meaningless appeal
of fruit on a white ceramic plate
and the phrase sounds finished like fine wood
when you say it on the telephone,
answering a switchboard, perhaps,
or a help desk in a skyscraper,
and you may imagine someone asserting it
and that it’s good for a webmaster to be a poet.

Insomnia

Insomnia, while it lasts, is like flying
downhill on a bike. We would love it
were it not for the denouement.
We do love it
under different names at different times:
the holiday weekend, cram sessions,
all the be-now-pay-later moments.
Names like focus, party mode,
and the Big Lie: wired. The promise,
never kept, that tomorrow will not
claim our time with interest, the loan
we didn’t ask for when we lie awake
spinning down mental slopes.