Not sure I’m ready to write poetry about it yet, but I’ve been working 60 hour weeks on a software project at work – installing some new software. One of the recurring themes with the software, and one that’s taking many people at work a great deal to get used to, is the fact that the software now touches on every department of the company, whereas the old accounting software just did the billing and purchase orders after everyone got through pushing the product around the building.
And of course I’ve been dreaming about the software. The TV show I saw last night, and how it would relate to the software. The book I read, and how the characters would deal with the software. The fact that I need to go to the bathroom and yet don’t want to get out of the warm bed and into the cold bathroom, and how this fact would be entered in the software…
in my dreams I was always walking somewhere
half-aware even in my dreams
I wasn’t walking anywhere
not for the time
being I’d had an accident in one
I stood behind a man speaking
on a podium he was leaning back
against me a heavy
weight a marching band advancing
everyone on their feet a
strange rhythm made musical
muffled drums and low brass.
I half-woke hearing the solenoids of
some hospital bedside machine
clacking the music I’d heard.
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.
I’m sorry I haven’t written
I’ve been reading magazines
and sometimes playing guitar.
I have a recurring dream about
an elegiac passage
but all I wake with is the rhythm.
In my dream, Uncle Cleo stands in his dead brother’s home
and calls suddenly for prayer. “When we die, let us die quickly,
oh Lord, but let us be what we can in the meantime.”
My brother loudly says “amen,” and adds
“I’m having trouble with that ‘be what we can,’ myself.”
Uncle Cleo keeps on in that calm preacher’s voice of his
about our trip, says “there’s no use to leave before daylight.”
In reality, Uncle Cleo died old of diabetes and drink,
a few body parts at a time until his final day at a VA hospital.
I never heard him pray, but he really had that preacher’s voice.
He knew what it was to ‘be what he could,’ having been a sailor,
a shoe salesman, a drinker. He knew what it was to find himself
married on a drunken weekend. His brother didn’t live like this.
The drunken marriage didn’t last the weekend, but there was
another woman who stayed with him through many divorces,
including their own.
Uncle Cleo really did live to stand in his dead brother’s home.
His brother always said he wanted to be a preacher
but died broke selling furniture instead; heart failure one
hot afternoon. If my brother ever says “I’m having trouble
with that ‘be what we can,’ myself,” I’ll probably say “amen” out loud,
but I doubt he’ll ever say it to me.
published around 2005 in the now defunct web journal, The New Pantagruel
Shirtless guy is lifting weights in his driveway.
The server is down again.
Down the tree-lined boulevard to the office.
Edith in accounting is having a crisis.
I wonder what’s new on Netflix.
My friend has made a drunken apology on Facebook.Read More »
A bit out of sequence, but… this is from a somewhat neglected collection that I need to get back to work on.
Christ calls Peter
We cleaned nets which stank from a long night
of nothing and mended them where the sea
snagged and tore them. He wanted to talk.
Not to me, but to the mob coming with him,
a rabble that made me and James look
like tax men.Read More »
I designated a driver: myself
because I wanted to arrive alive
with a family of work-relations
who wanted to continue the wake
for our co-worker who’s still
sending out auto-replies.Read More »
(dverse poetry prompt)
I only wish I were chased by gorgons, or succubi.
Instead, it’s Bob from accounting, and he’s fully clothed,
asking me to use algebra to figure out what account to put a sale in.Read More »
is in turn pedestrian and incoherent until I admit what I was doing.
I’ve rejected making a joke about the Affair of the Fourteen
and the NPR podcast I heard about the rhyming police blotter in New Hampshire
cops seem to hate hearing about how it is up north
“Well, what was the poem?” he says, having swept my car with the flashlight
for guns, pot, notebooks – coming up empty.
“Well, as of now it’s:
blue light like the man
coming to tell me take it
easy in the moment.”
“That’s one too many syllables,”
he sighs, handing me my license.
“Slow it down, and replace
‘in the moment’ with something
that’s not a cliche.”