What Was Left of Meaning

What was left of meaning

was

trying

to get from

central nowhere to at least

the edge of civilization. The woods

were

lovely,

primitive

and welcoming. They were always

the beginning,

dark,

a hiding. I am the thief

on the other cross,

he

thought. I am

the measure

of

grace. And there

was a road.

The Appearance

The appearance

of normalcy,

of

respectability, was

more

important

to you than the welfare

of your children,

read

the fortune

on the rectangle

of paper

in the mother’s

hand,

which

began to shake.

The waiter,

noticing,

waited

at a distance. There

was a man also

at the table,

but

not

really. It

was too late

for

anything.

Waiting for the Light

Waiting for the light

to change

so

they

could

walk across

Commercial Street, Jake

put his arm around his wife,

and she smiled

at this rare

public

display

of affection. He liked her

long, chocolate brown,

silk

skirt and the red

leather boots she wore

down

below. He liked her and

wanted

her

to know.

Page 750 On (After ‘Sideways’)

Page 750 on

is

exactly

the same, muttered

the pale

boy

in the back row, seated

in the left-handed

desk

by

the window.

He was alone in

the

room,

waiting

for afternoon

study hall to start.

Sin

was

crouching

outside the door,

like

always,

keening his zen.

Salvation

was locked in

traffic

on

the

LIE.

The Importants

Better to ignore

the angel

in

the

tree

outside

your window

than to acknowledge

the danger it terrifies

away. We were sitting

in Burger

King

discussing

how the inexperienced

shake from the perceived

power

of

holding

a weapon, when my

ketchup pile

into

which

I’d been dipping

both burger and fries,

died

suddenly

from inattention.

Existence Precedes Essence

I mean, what’s

the

event?

What are we

all

doing

here? I arrived

early, just

in

case, which turned

out to be smart

because

now

it’s

crowded, and I

have a decent

spot

near

the front.

If I want

a beer, I’ll

just

leave

my sweater

on the chair.

Hopefully

no

one

will steal

it.

Walking to Work

Rueing the decision

to get out

a stop

early

at Copley, and walk

in the brightness

up

Boylston, Claire

tightened her

thin

blue

scarf against

the cold that was

already killing

several

Bostonians, whose

bodies would be recollected

on the evening news, thrilling

survivors. Toward the end, Claire

walked sideways,

backwards, and

finally, just

ran.

Solitude (After ‘I’m Not There’)

The records indicate

that you’ve

been . . .

away,

was

the passive-aggressive

message in the translation

to English of

my own

room’s

mood when I finally

returned.

I greeted

every piece of furniture

by name

and curtsied (for

fun) to the knickknacks

who love

my

silliness. Eventually the

warmth

of

reunion, and

every

atom

sighing

with relief.

In One of Nature’s

In one of nature’s

more

sophisticated

glens, I purchase

the smallest possible

cup

of coffee

because I’m

already jittery, and continue

walking up Pine Street to Cal

Anderson

Park

where

I am familiar

with several benches. The smell

of hash is an impertinent

reminder, I am

somewhere.

Like

the dire

scent of an

unnamed wild

flower.

Instead of Trying

Instead of trying

to be funnier

than

the

guy

in the turquoise

sweater, who was

making his fiancé laugh and unravel

her charms, Jake went into the kitchen

to find himself

another

Stella. I won’t vie,

he thought, holding the

edge of the closed bottle

top

against

the counter

and slamming down

his open

palm.