Here I am at the specific location,
with its world-infected familiarity,
and its over-looked, unlikely beauty. It is here
where, after a brief meditation on an esoteric topic,
I will come to a realization at once profound
and elementary, something we all know
that had never before achieved itself in song.
How exposed I am, here in these words,
translating my insights into language both elaborate
and brutal. And how hopeful of you, Dear Reader,
to press on despite the odds,
the paltry expense and frequent frustrations.
But this isn’t about you. You sit down.
This is about truth as our attentions
drift to a seemingly unrelated tidbit,
such as the average number of molecules in the width of a human hair,
or something funny Bob Dylan once said in Tucson.
Off on tangents we worry together how I will pull off the conceit,
but you can see it in your peripheral vision:
the end of the poem approaching
like the end of a moving walkway at Lester B. Pearson Airport.
Your gate is behind you now, but the glide
has been pleasant enough, and allowed you to rest your shoulders.
Each well-constructed sentence
brings us closer to our anticipated departure.
Ah, but now the metaphor begins to collapse
under its ambitions (where are we off to? did we pack light?),
and the model threatens to devolve into parody.
You have wasted your time when you could have
exercised your logical mind solving sudoku.
Fear not. It’s almost over. And you can congratulate yourself
for reading the poem and know that your judgments of its merits
are informed by a whole host of criteria
that relatively few have access to. The world
is full of cretins who don’t read poems,
but you are not among them. You are vastly
superior in many respects.
It turns out this poem is about you after all!
You are a Reader of Poetry in the 21st Century,
a species no less endangered or precious
than the narwhal. The unacknowledged legislators of our world,
as everyone knows, are actuaries,
but who needs legislation,
or the world for that matter,
when we can huddle together at the end of the poem,
relishing our rarified pleasures?
Dos mochaccinos, por favor!
Before the Conference Call
Four minutes before the Conference Call,
this Something Unimportant day of July,
I am sitting in a stall with my smuggled
copy of poems by Paul Durcan,
thinking of Phil while someone on the other
side of the barrier, inches away,
hawks into a urinal. Oh Phil,
I wish you were here with me now –
well, not exactly now, but at least on the Conference Call
because the voices will be strange and crackly,
and I am not certain I belong there, or even where
“there” is, if the District Manager
is in his car on the Cross Bronx Expressway
and the Sales Rep is in Trenton – which, as far as I know,
is Nowhere – and Legal is in Detroit but
not really Detroit, and I am in Desperate Straits.
I’d rather not be “there.” I’d like to sit
some more and read Paul Durcan.
But it is time, already it is time,
and the poems will have to wait, and my
relief will have to wait. . . No!
I can be one minute late for the Conference Call.
Who would notice a minute, or two minutes?
“Sorry, I’m just logging on.” Oh, don’t worry,
we’re only getting started. Yes, I will read
one more poem, I will wash my forlorn hands –
to hell with the Conference Call
and its insane demands! Phil, how you would
sneer to see me fumbling my way through,
but your sneering has always been an act of patronage.
You will not be on this Conference Call,
or on any other, ever again. Good, dead Phil.
But I will be. I will give productive input
with my fragrant hands slightly damp,
and my head full of hysterical Irishmen.
But first, “A Dublin Gynaecologist in Dubai.”