They stare at their open books not
to find answers but to avoid my gaze,
my incessant inquiry, as if I were the
retarded cousin at a funeral.
I want to help you but this is our job.
Reading this brings us together, so help me.
That's what I've been told.
This is not good, one says,
it is cynical and disrespectful to the
characters, disrespectful to the reader. It is
irrelevant and not fair to us. We should read
something life affirming.
Listen to me. I am in a foreign country whose
tongue I can barely wrap my lips around,
a land of hair dyed the color of a rusted bucket.
I am married to irrelevance, and nothing is
more unfair. You will read these stories
because they are unfair and have no relevance to
you. When I teach I talk to myself while you listen,
and the only one who learns is me, and what I
learn is that grave errors are made in times
of despair, and despair is all my watch reads.
If nothing else, learn this fact:
life consumes you in small bits
and morning brings with it only the hope that
maybe this will all end soon. The world is
an overpriced ticket to a bad jazz concert
where only the bassist and drummer bothered
to show. The shops all closed fifteen minutes
ago and the money in your pocket is as worthless
as the apology from your drunken girlfriend
when she cannot remember where she's been
all night. You take her in and she sleeps it off
while you seethe endlessly in the brittle silence.
the distance around you
becomes the distance between you,
but from the awful radio comes a song you know,
a song that sounds like home, and
out the window the spruce tree is holding
fresh snow. Every story is irrelevant,
every person who sleeps beside you has lied,
but there in the dark, it all disappears and
you can hardly sense the coming and going
as your wish to be consumed comes true.