|Plainsong (A Preview)
I'll call my next poem "Antipathy" and the one after that, "Dog Found."
Then I'm going to start writing another, better poem, called "Plainsong."
Sometimes when I brag my wife will remind me
that when the guards periodically shushed the tourists
in the Sistine Chapel, I was complicit if already silent.
I want to be the kind of person who would write love poems
to my husband while I raise eight children. I'd like to be able to say that
the sound of our spinning washer makes me feel at ease.
It's true that the rain streaming over the sides of my clogged gutters
is more welcome than my cat purring on my lap because
at this the middle point of his life he has begun to drool.
When I look at beautiful women it's as if I were looking through
a picture album of ice-cream cakes--Mother's Day
on the opposite page of a Happy Valentine.
"God is the ground of being," says the theologian, Paul Tillich.
My chiropractor wants me to believe he can help
my headaches but doesn't see how anyone could believe in God.
"The best theologians never mention God." --Anonymous.
It's true, I'm a follower. I can name
three men whom I've followed to an unhealthy degree.
Is three a small number?
My parents are right about many things: all you have to do is re-heat
a coffee, any coffee, to make it taste better.
When I drink coffee with, say, three chocolate chip cookies
I can't help but finish the cookies before I've even sipped the coffee.
My chiropractor has moved into a house larger than
the one owned by my neurologist who confided in me
that he bought Finnegan's Wake to read while at the beach but still hasn't finished it.
My neurologist's mother goes to a chiropractor.
When he told her it was a waste of money she said she knows
but she likes the foot massage. My mother
often proudly proclaims that she'll eat anything.
Last night, after letting the cat sit on my lap,
I picked many scabs out of his fur. Later when he went outside
he didn't even have his scabs to keep him warm.
Today I'm walking around with pink paint on my hands
after painting my daughter Daphne's bedroom last night.
It's one of those days when I couldn't honestly tell you whether or not I'm happy.
Let's just say that on my way home from work tonight
bunches of giant green bananas painted on trucks kept passing me as if
I was standing still—Let's just say it will be days before I bother
to scratch all the pink specks off my glasses.
Taking My Lunch at Home 4/02/01
I want my wife to stop wearing my clogs. That's all I want—
All I want is to eat this salami sandwich and this apple.
And maybe the orchid on the kitchen table to stop blooming
or to find the poem for the line
about how winter has too many pockets.
I want my neighbor's one-of-a-kind Tibetan wolf hound
to stop barking. I want my neighbor's wife.
I want my deaf neighbor to clear our common border of vetch and vines.
I want my son's fingers to grow thicker.
I want a row of evergreens in the front of the yard
that won't block the view of the lake. Of course
the garage needs sweeping, the motorcycle battery needs
charging, the skateboard ramp needs paint.
I want to sleep in my own bed again.
I want a position
in which to sit
so my back doesn't hurt.
I want air in my tires and the blue birds to stop shitting on the deck.
I want the cardinals to stay away from my black truck.
Meditation with Self-Dissolving Sutures
My endodontist won't give me any advice on my son's sleep problems.
His son still sleeps with him too.
Now, after minor surgery on my tooth,
I'm riding around town listening to Maurice Chevalier
sing "I Remember it Well" just loud enough so I won't hurt my ears.
My cheek is swollen. My endodontist gave me a fifty/fifty chance
the procedure will work. He's certain
the sutures will hold. I started
grinding my teeth after my son was born.
I couldn't understand, till I had my son, how
a man could go out for cigarettes and never come back.
I haven't had a cigarette in four years. Which reminds me
how Mark Twain said he made it policy never to smoke more than one cigar
at a time and also how he made terrific use of the pregnant pause.
My endodontist's nurse told me local anesthetic makes your heart race
as fast as it might just before you're going to die.
Woody Allen says you're only as strong as your conscience
is weak—at least that's what I get from his movies,
which I find enormously entertaining. That said, I feel a lot more
comfortable when I quote him
saying good fortune is more in control than we would ever admit.