Thank you for siphoning out
the water standing in the dip in my yard
after such a heavy rain, Lisa.
It was confusing to walk out there,
with the magnolias so bushy, and flowering,
and my sneakers squishing like octopi.
Eerier, more mirrorlike, my lake;
packed with elephant fish these days.
I get up early to watch the sun rise
over it, then walk around it with a rake,
hoping somehow to make it shapely.
But I'm finding that regions of wetland
hemorrhage insidiously outward
until the lake is all in water draped,
like a fish sombrero, or pudding cake.
Eerier, my lake, and frankly, more absurd,
and in the sparkling end of day
a gathering-point for all sorts of birds.
I traded a weird little vest I inherited from my great-grandfather
for a tube of poker chips rumored to have been on the Titanic.
Since then, there have been little sparkly things everywhere I walk.
Upon squinting, I see that they are little winged pigs, with the face
of President Bill Clinton!
President Clinton, good friend, could these be the very angels,
the guardian angels of the Titanic,
banished to earth to flit about, barely noticed?
When I'm in a big crowd of people
I hand out bubble gum from a rubber bag,
or photographs of dogs among daisies.
When I'm in a much smaller crowd
I whisper half sentences and smirk
at businessmen who inevitably arch their eyebrows.
When I'm with only one other person
I gaze directly into his or her eyes
and offer to go buy us a bottle of wine.
When I'm all alone I sit at my computer
and write shortish essays about coffins
and the throats of animals. It's true.
When I'm not even by myself, when
it's less than that, I imagine a thin strand
of semen, how many lives are up and down it.
There is this game they play down at the business school.
It's called "Who is George Clooney?"
One time I went down there in a gray tuxedo
And a new briefcase full of souvenir spoons
For sale, but nobody would listen to me.
Instead they shouted, "Who is George Clooney??"
I began to answer in the obvious way but was shrugged off
Like a rookie catcher, ignored like a secretary,
And the business students kept ducking in and out
Of classrooms, laughing, shouting terse instructions,
Carrying candles with George Clooney's face on them,
Though some of them also had portable televisions.
They play a variant of this game in Japanese schools
of business called "Who is Frank Sinatra?"
If you try to answer, they politely take of their shoes
and ask you, "Then who is Bing Crosby?"
Leads me to believe that they have these two crooners
confused over there; Americans on the other hand
Are cock-sure they know who George Clooney is
and you better damned well not try and tell them.
Japan: totally different attitude toward knowledge.
Awesome looking women and really great food, too.
is a teacher and writer in St. Louis, MO. He's published poems in journals such as Fine Madness, Court Green, Fence, and Jacket. His current "big project" is Observable Books and Readings, currently in its fourth season.