“You might die writing a five hundred page novel” –Alice Munro
What we must know at seventy-eight. The thrill a veteran with leukemia gets
when comparing his slutty masseuse Roxanne
to Alexander the Great’s wife Roxanne. Earnest Bottoms,
a country scholar’s nickname for Ernie Botts, her neuter cousin.
Death is on the horizon. We can see what takes us. There’s more.
Please use your own personals, my roommate wrote. Whatever
we did then, we do forever. In youth we have premonition.
In age, memory. Notions, whatnots, sundries,
on the Tenth Street Rexall Drugs billboard. I get it now.
No one is out to help us. No masters and apprentices.
Just confidence games. Henery Hawk
frying Foghorn Leghorn’s foot in a pan. My dad
loved that southern blowhard, and Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner.
I like the TV designer in heels pounding a picture hook into the wall,
the soap actress stabbing a salad with a fork repeatedly.
We learn even the simple present tense must end, but there are clues
the world goes on: its bad habits of rerunning seasons
and eroding solids, its penchant for coups d’etat.
The dying man’s sexual charge out of playing Chinese checkers,
and my cat turning his head on his paralyzed body
to lick ice cream. “Sometimes we cannot satisfy each other.”
Let’s admit it. And not blame ourselves for where the body goes.