They want only privacy – freedom
from conscience, taxes, or any
comparisons but theirs –
but through the long afternoon
they have to show me
their wine- and gun-cellars,
stables, pool, cars (insisting
they only ever drive
the Ford), her designer shmates,
his pills, embarrassing documents
from every encrypted or vaulted
depth: the whole thing
in fact. And though I ooze
humility – sipping microns
of the same two fingers’, grazing
one congealing canapé, not
knowing what to do with my hands,
my brain, the dead – I
still inspire hostility.
She asks about “my people,”
yet however hard we search
we find not one being
in common. He, increasingly icily,
talks sports. Gazing out, I plan
a park, reclaimed farmland;
they have too much glass
for a picturesque ruin. Day wanes,
the oil flows, security cameras
pan hopelessly back and forth, and thus
eternity finds us.
He liked such places more than he could say.
A mumbling speedfreak busboy cleared away
The old, slapped down a new soiled fork and plate.
The wrinkled waitress, focusing her hate,
Mistook his order, meanwhile loosely pouring
Some cloudy lukewarm stuff he sat adoring,
Tasting the walls, the clientele, the grill.
He peered and ate delightedly until
The shadow of the offices across
The street dispersed as if the sun were boss
For fifteen minutes, looking in. He waited.
The coming horror could not be overstated.
It might take place outside, where ambulances,
Tour-buses, cruisers, cabs were taking chances
Past lesser vehicles, and passersby
At great unconscious length prepared to die
While, armed, an as-yet unembodied grin
Began to light … It might occur within.
Or not. That place is safe, if any is,
Whose sadness welcomes other sadnesses.
That place is good, is home, which lets one sit,
Will never close till someone closes it,
And fills your cup unasked while you think, vaguely:
Evil is better than being merely ugly.
Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press, and a collection of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, forthcoming in 2015 from Prolific Press. His work has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich),
The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), Iota (UK), Bateau,Fulcrum, etc. Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, etc. Adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University.