“The Surgeon General’s Report on Waiting”
The situation in my country is this. Our poor love our rich, and our wives adore our wife-beaters.
It’s sad, yes, but let’s not talk about it. Even the subject of sadness will make us sad.
Here’s something else we do. In my country, when we’re waiting for someone who is very late, we stand at the meeting spot and smoke cigarette after cigarette. Then, when we die, we blame everybody who kept us waiting.
“Cake” by Gertrude Stein is from Food, part of Tender Buttons.
DALL-E mini is by Boris Dayma and colleagues.
Cake cast in went to be and needles wine needles are such.
This is today. A can experiment is that which makes a town, makes a town dirty, it is little please. We came back. Two bore, bore what, a mussed ash, ash when there is tin. This meant cake. It was a sign.
Another time there was extra a hat pin sought long and this dark made a display. The result was yellow. A caution, not a caution to be.
It is no use to cause a foolish number. A blanket stretch a cloud, a shame, all that bakery can tease, all that is beginning and yesterday yesterday we had it met. It means some change. No some day.
A little leaf upon a scene an ocean any where there, a bland and likely in the stream a recollection green land. Why white.
The terrapin and his house are one.
Though he may go, he’s never gone.
He’s housed within, from nose to toe:
A door, a floor, and no window.
There’s little room; the light is dim;
His furniture is only him.
He doesn’t speak what he thinks about;
Where no guest comes, a thought’s a shout.
He pokes along; he’s in no haste:
He has no map and no suitcase;
He has no worries and no woes,
For where he is is where he goes.
Ponder this wonder under his dome
Who, wandering, is always home.
Out of the golden West, out of the leaden East, into the iron South, and to the silver North … Oh metals metals everywhere, forks and knives, belt buckles and hooks … When you are beaten you sing. You do not give anyone a chance …
You come out of the earth and fly with men. You lodge in men. You hurt them terribly. You tear them. You do not care for anyone.
Oh metals metals, why are you always hanging about? Is it not enough that you hold men’s wrists? Is it not enough that we let you in our mouths?
Why is it you will not do anything for yourself? Why is it you always wait for men to show you what to be?
And men love you. Perhaps it is because you soften so often.
You did, it is true, pour into anything men asked you to. It has always proved you to be somewhat softer than you really are.
Oh metals metals, why are you always filling my house?
You are like family, you do not care for anyone.
“The River of Bees”
In a dream I returned to the river of bees
Five orange trees by the bridge and
Beside two mills my house
Into whose courtyard a blindman followed
The goats and stood singing
Of what was older
Soon it will be fifteen years
He was old he will have fallen into his eyes
I took my eyes
A long way to the calendars
Room after room asking how shall I live
One of the ends is made of streets
One man processions carry through it
Empty bottles their
Image of hope
It was offered to me by name
Once once and once
In the same city I was born
Asking what shall I say
He will have fallen into his mouth
Men think they are better than grass
I return to his voice rising like a forkful of hay
He was old he is not real nothing is real
Nor the noise of death drawing water
We are the echo of the future
On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live
Why should I have returned?
My knowledge would not fit into theirs.
I found untouched the desert of the unknown,
Big enough for my feet. It is my home.
It is always beyond them. The future
Splits the present with the echo of my voice.
Hoarse with fulfillment, I never made promises.
“The Coahoma County Wind Cults”
My dream walked on four legs
toward the remote source
of a pale yellow letter
only to circle around the cabin
when it got there.
A black and white cave rainbow
arched between two old shoes.
Oxygen bounced off the face of a doll,
looking for the slow dazzling guts
of a life form.
There was a moment of sudden clarity
when the pages of burned in opera glasses,
like a herd crossing zip codes
or an exhausted idea pressing
at the limits of the marquee bulbs,
my dream pushes air.
“Occurrence on Washburn Avenue”
Alice’s first strike gets a pat on the back,
her second a cheer from Betty Woszinski
who’s just back from knee surgery. Her third—
“A turkey!” Molly calls out—raises everyone’s eyes.
They clap. Teresa looks up from the bar.
At the fourth the girls stop seeing their own pins wobble.
They watch the little X’s fill the row on Alice’s screen—
That’s five. That’s six. There’s a holy space
around her like a saint come down to bowl
with the Tuesday Ladies in Thorp, Wisconsin.
Teresa runs to get Al, and Fran calls Billy
at the Exxon. The bar crowds with silent men.
No one’s cheering. No one’s bowling now
except Alice’s team, rolling their balls
to advance the screen around to Alice, who’s stopped
even her nervous laugh, her face blank and smooth
with concentration. It can’t go on
and then it does go on, the white bar
reading “Silver Dollar Chicken” lowering and clearing
nothing, then lowering and clearing nothing again.
In the sixth grade I was chased home by
the Gatlin kids, three skinny sisters
in rolled-down bobby socks. Hissing
Brainiac! and Mrs. Stringbean!, they trod my heel.
I knew my body was no big deal
but never thought to retort: who’s
calling who skinny? (Besides, I knew
they’d beat me up.) I survived
their shoves across the schoolyard
because my five-foot-zero mother drove up
in her Caddie to shake them down to size.
Nothing could get me into that car.
I took the long way home, swore
I’d show them all: I would grow up.