I see it as a hotel.
Room service and the minibar
are great; I seldom leave
my suite except to walk, take in a show,
the show, try out new places.
I’ll have to leave eventually,
skip on the bill. At all times
I have the essentials on me. Meanwhile my office
is the endlessly-extending hallway.
The walls look like upscale Italian mirrors,
dark as obsidian. You’d have to focus
to notice the receding planes
within, and that the surface,
however often wiped, is always tacky.
As I walk, my fans collect in my wake.
They’re forever the same yet different:
new ones fuse with the old, creating
top-heavy, multi-limbed and multi-
empty-headed goons – Christ, are they ugly!
They keep their distance, eyes respectfully lowered,
“inward.” I press my forehead to the walls.
Just beyond my reflection hangs someone
in one sort of trouble, nearby another;
I reach in and pull
whoever’s handiest from the goo,
entrust them to the carpet, and voilà!
Remission. A liver is found. She wakes up.
The UN trucks get through and bring him rice.
The dog returns. He does rehab.
The lost one is returned with time left
for some childhood. And the ones in the hallway
gather new limbs and mouths and wave
their many arms and weep from many eyes and
praise me. Not noticing
the other bodies writhing in the walls,
trillions by my count, who add
as they die to chic darkness. Or seeing,
even when I bow to my reflection,
the more than family resemblance
between me and the sludge … Oh the grating
noise of hosannas, even secular!
If they ever wise up, I’m outta here.
Someone has brought flowers.
Flowers, moreover, that I like.
Those violet irises that look
like nothing else, whose strength is exposure;
Gerbera daisies with their lurid,
hippie spirit; the perfect breasts of peonies;
red mini-mountain plumed celosia.
The question Who, as I slept,
brought them doesn’t, however,
engage me as much as something part
reflection, part memory:
in childhood I expected presents,
which dulled the thrill of getting them, increased
the grief and rage of not.
Now I don’t expect them.
Somehow the flowers inspire me
to get up, leave, walk, however inappropriately
dressed. Somewhere to the right,
beyond trees lie the palaces
of president and parliament. They have,
despite their vivid barriers and snipers,
the stuffy look of places where
no tears may enter. This rule is ensured,
enforced, by the glass towers
surrounding them, which own the land. Within,
no doubt, some ungroomed ape
swings from a ceiling; food passes
from beak to beak; a fearful chittering little
mammal boasts till other animals
would laugh, if animals could laugh.
But today no sirens, demonstrations,
or gunfire mar
the quiet. Ruined, the palaces
look noble, the bare steel grids around them almost
poignant. Houses constructed
from other houses gaze out on fields;
farmers accustomed to madmen wave.
I wonder if, when exhaustion comes,
kindness will be man’s final tactic;
but instead of investigating, enter
the woods that have uprooted streets and walls.
And savor flickering forest light,
eyes of beasts that will not eat me,
and knots of wildflowers, loveliest unseen.