Today I Cancelled My Subscription to the New Yorker
Gloria takes my call but the connection is quickly lost.
Loretta picks up next and, without a trace of a Southern accent
behind that name, says she is sorry to hear that and asks
if she may ask what the reason is. I want to tell her
I am sorry, too. Want to say: It’s been a weird day, Loretta.
More and more I am drawn to negative energy. As if
every person in distress in the world needs my help.
Like the two guys fighting at the bus terminal
to whom I screamed STOP-STOP-STOP as I made my way
down the escalator, the best part being they stopped, one young,
the other old, the Heart soundtrack in my ears deafening everything.
See, I have spent my life tonguing chain-smoking men of various ages
as if wanting to be the danger in their lungs. They always dissipated first, fast.
Too often have I dwelt near crevasses in the melting ice. Or written
lines like: “Love is a book by Anxious Huxley left open
on a fake granite table from Home Depot.”
I’ve also yelled at people who want to sit next to me on the bus. But what
I’d love to say, Loretta, is: it’s not you, it’s me—something we should print
on a T-shirt to sweat through the guilt of ending anything long term.
It’s just too expensive, is all I can offer. I totally get you,
sweet and understanding Loretta says. And hangs up.
Dear Office Chair Sitting on a Vacant Lot
I’m writing to you from a kitchen chair
not designed for long hauls, thinking of
the seven empty beer bottles someone laid
across your seat so tidily. It makes me happy
to imagine partygoers who can also be good citizens
even if they had to climb over a chainlink fence
to get into this lunar place, if that’s what they did.
Unless it was construction workers after-
hours, no wonder nothing has been built yet.
Or maybe one person dragged you here
from the mid-level Midtown job they hated,
a key to the padlock somehow in their possession:
This guy is no climber and goes on benders.
If only I could go on a binge. Wake up flammable
with a flawless glass septet on my lap, wondering
how-why-where? If only but not really. My former
spirit party animal knows I’m sobered by the sight
of all sorts of creatures caught in oil spills, in forests
ignited and febrile. If only I were a large baboon
god not just for the ergonomic padding under me—
a bit of a biter, often cranky, head of HR
in the underworld, now hiring.
Forget your arboreal heritage,
you with the untamed face.
Here is what must happen: Thigh bone
elongation, that big toe needing to creep forward
before you can get anywhere near capitalism.
Follow the whale’s example, in reverse: An aardwolf-sized
creature that turned its limbs
into tail flukes and flippers.
Cute but your brain’s too small, hips all wrong.
So far from future Homo naledi and heidelbergensis.
Never mind neanderthalensis and their contemporary
know-it-all pal. So far from paleo diets.
Even if you know nothing about fire everything’ll still
go swimmingly. Your descendants forge ahead.
Trade spears for Trader Joe’s. Ice Age for
tuna melt, Tazarotene, and harpoons.
above the roof
of my head.
age (I can handle it
across the sky.
while most clap.
Ou de Ghost
We close our eyes
for a second
to see you
blurred in the downpour,
umbrella in flames.