User’s Manual in Middle Age
I please only myself as long as I’m alone: every thought & each step a sweet shiver.
It’s a race with no end. I get down to worship & feel these knees quiver.
Everything’s hilarious until I wail in self-pity – and even still, it is, a little.
Let me tell you about leaving the bottle, like every other now-sober feast-giver:
“I found a body, once, & it was mine!” (Or was it hers?)
The chalk outlives the rain. The arrows are all re-quivered.
What’s a bigness, anyway? What’s a hunger? What’s an inhale?
Looking up at the stars like any old creatures, we eat whole the sweet shiver.
A joke: once there was a rabbi & a priest & both were alive.
That’s it, that’s the joke! Can’t help it: God’s a cheap gift-giver.
Look around for the soul & tell me when you find us.
Where are we now? Somewhere behind your meat-liver?
But I’m always a jester — to whom, Warbs? How about you shut up & deliver.
The only fourth wall to break is your own, so look: live here.
“I don’t want to be a person. I want to be unbearable.”
—Anne Carson, Decreation
Will ghost sharks disappear
before scientists get the chance
to study them? asks the newspaper.
—Does pseudophilosophy encourage
self-indulgent thinking? —Will a micro-
wave turn chicken into arsenic?
I have a thing or two to say,
but none of it matters, much, I’m afraid,
much like the scientist & shark & all.
I heat a shrieking potato, shriveling steam
in the microwave. Entice a hunched cat
onto the porch. I think
of my loves, all ill-fated.
Likely I will do both
anything & nothing,
or I will do nothing
& think everything,
which seems more likely.
What’s a thing but a thought ::
what is a do
but a move :: what is incarnate
but the time before death?
I’m too proud to try. Proud
is another word for “afraid
someone will see something
I haven’t.” Pass me that hat & show
me what’s inside. A secret?
Perhaps there is no reasonable way to live.
Perhaps I am as absurd as a mole rat
wearing a bowler hat on his way to work
in the sun. Perhaps I’ll love just as the mole
loves his walking stick and spats. Perhaps
I am only the celluloid collar to a suit.
I stop myself like a tub.
Why waste the water?
Why not a skin-skim circle
like salt before the threshold?
If scum rises, I’m at the top
with my memories:
me, sitting in a care-home recliner, waiting
to play my flute, listening to the voices. Honey,
says a widower talking to his ghost, let’s make a break
for it. Come on. How long do we have to stay here, after all?