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by Pat Nolan


I would be different yet
I've spent years not

the drama is imagined
everything I said put in quotes

tap into the prose stream
distill the poetry trickle

history is bisecting circles ad infinitum
every fact can be known by its various path
a multitude of skinned cats
a pile actually none done the same
they are the animal
               specifically for that purpose
we are the animal who knows that

whorl around which energy revolves
an imperfection
                         a clump of time
                         where space is limited
the density of one
                              or the other
                    but interesting

     "you are here"


1. Larry's Party

The confetti had long since landed
plates stacked glasses gathered up
some lipsticked rimmed some overturned
on the bright tablecloth stained by
the leftovers of a substantial spread
whose pungent aromas mixed with the scent
of several perfumes and acrid tobacco
taint gathered as a haze around the
bottoms of lampshades muted sounds of a
generic jazz from the stereo a woman's
coat draped over a chair matching
high-heeled shoes kicked under the
coffee table the bedroom door slightly
ajar the throaty drone of a man's
voice and a woman's breathy sobs as
the forecasted early morning rain begins
to pock brightly lit kitchen window panes

2. Big Trouble

Anticipation's abstract paralysis
trial date delayed once again
more phone calls gone unanswered
floor tile count the same every day
the elevator of ups and downs
counsel reserved and obsequious
full length windows overlook
the rain drenched court yard
but allow no ray of hope in
a prospective juror marks her place
in the thick paperback and
glances glumly at her wrist watch
the briefcases of young attorneys
dangled in front like the leather
aprons of stockyard attendants
await the call and bailiff to herd
the jury pool into the courtroom

3. The Measure Of Our Days

Count the hours
the number never seems enough
how to fit everything in
how arbitrary the length
minutes seem like hours yet years
pass in the blink of an eye
look in the mirror and face
a clock that can't be turned back
those idle moments in front of the tube
that long drive to and from the job
even accompanied by favorite songs
investments that bear no interest
then one bright afternoon ride
the photon wave of mere existence
at the speed of light and bide
your time as shadows lengthen and
mark the measure of our days


                    "I thought I'd lost my pen
                     but it found me again"

Lengthening shadows
arouse me from my daydream
blank page insomnia
what am I doing!
I'm reading Philip Whalen
when I swore I would never again!
his songs induce imitation
                    slavish I might add
(see example)
it's the birds who are happy
I didn't cut down their trees
or I imagine them happy
(I can't be happy I have a sore back)
flittering and fluttering
among the piney woodtops
they have a spectacular view
of my wisteria iris and forget-me-nots
among the lush greenery of spring grass
yellow soon enough
                    this is California after all
another drought
another decade
I work in the garden oblivious
and thankful
I don't have to wear an Easter bonnet
though maybe I should as my wife advises
the little bald spot
at the back of my head is getting pink
it's shaped like an egg
a look in the mirror says I should
maybe trim my whiskers say hello to Harvey
the world falls around me
it's mostly paper and words some dust
sawdust leaks from my ears
lead me to those fumes
("smoke" in French)
I don't care to appear wooden
but maybe that's the way some people see me
a big log waiting to be milled
I still have plenty of bark left
saw squeal reminder of my fate
another sequel would have me mashed
to a pulp and reappear as the paper
upon which I write
no one thinks it unusual
I had a long talk with Mao
I remembered when I awoke
Capitalism versus Communism the topic
he hefted into a heavy red coat
when we finally got up to leave the café
I told him he looked just like Santa Claus
we have nothing like that in China he replied
outside saying our good-byes
he pointed out the rabbit in the full moon
down the street the dogs are barking
no really
someone's rolled away the stone
and released spring from the vault of winter
rejoice etc.
radio turned up loud
                              through the trees
a laugh booms ancient wise happy
some old bird up to the country for the weekend

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