Thursday, March 12, 2015

poem of the day 03.12.15

two oranges

we are no hungrier
than any other two people on this train

although i think about peeling the two oranges
one in my bag one in my wife’s

feeding on them like everyone else seems to do
when in transit in this city

some mornings these trains look like full catered breakfasts
when not disguised as a hair and make-up salon

we were just at the oncologist’s office

my wife checked out good
like she has for the past six months

but all of that worry while we were there
it felt like hunger

going over cancer again and again leaves a hollow ache

it’s strange being the two youngest people
in the doctor’s office

strange and it can bring you down if you let it

my wife and i lose the fine art of conversation
when we’re in that office
and only regain it after when we’re back on the street

the doctor has a ton of picasso prints on his walls
the cubist stuff that i really don’t like

if we were looking at them in a museum
i’d tell my wife that i’m not a fan of cubism
and then we’d move on to something else like degas

this has nothing to do with being hungry
or the two oranges in our bags

but my wife and i still aren’t really talking on the train

so i pass the time focusing on picasso
and how hungry i am

there is only one other person on the train
an old woman eating a bag of peanuts

she’d just finished a bag of barbecue chips
and a bag of pretzels beforehand

she’s not helping things along

a few stops before we’re supposed to get off
i see my wife turn to the woman

i lean in, catch the woman say
i said, do you have anything to eat?

my wife looks at me, shows me her salad
says, i have enough money in my wallet for something else

i look at the bandage on her hand
where they drew blood like they draw blood every month

i take the orange out of my bag
give it to my wife to give to the woman

my wife takes her orange out too
although i don’t want her to because of blood sugar levels

although we’re probably way past that worry

the woman takes both oranges
and only says, both? after they are in her bag

yes, my wife says, both

god bless you, the woman says
as we’re getting off the train

i wish that i could say it felt like a benediction
but we’ve both got eight hours of work to get through

and by four in the afternoon
someone is going to be emailing someone else
about being hungry and depressed

wishing they had a big juicy orange to eat.                   

AND....because it would've been Kerouac's 93rd birthday today

 at jack’s grave

i always feel
like i just missed you
if we go to one of the houses
that you lived in
the apartment where you wrote
on the road
if we find one of your old
frisco or new york city haunts
i like to think
that we’ve just missed you
that you were just at the bar
in a red flannel
with a notebook on the table
shouting, red faced
talking brilliant gabby-gook
pushing your black hair back
on that french-canadian head of yours
piercing the room with your sad eyes
or maybe you’re taking a piss
and i think that i’ll just sit here
and wait eternal
restful and content
like walking down your shrouded streets
on october nights
daydreaming the soul of the nation
jack, i know i’m being a child when i do this
i’m being hopeful in my own way
but it’s been forty-one years
and the heavens haven’t spit you
back to us yet
i’m laying down next to your grave
in hot lowell, massachusetts
my brother watching the blue sky
my wife and sister-in-law
snapping pictures of me
coming here has taken me too long
it’s taken me thousands of miles
to find myself and this piece of home
i am helping ally run paper and pencils
over your name to preserve it
but i don’t know where i’m going
to hang it in my room
we are fixing the debris around your grave
adjusting a small maroon buddha
putting the cigarettes and joints
back into perfect rows
leaving tickets to paris subways
and poems given to us by friends
we no longer have
at the base of the faded granite
you honored life
and i finally have to accept that you are gone
i am thinking of roads and rivers
of mighty veins stretching down the back of america
spools of highway and interstate
of apple pie in diners that no longer exist
like lowell isn’t really a mill town anymore, jack
like america isn’t what you painted her to be
i’m at the end of the illusion
but it’s all right
you and i
we’ve always been good at pulling the wool
over our eyes
seeing what we want to see
it helps paint the picture
it always helped us to vomit out the words
those precious words, jack
our gospel
those heavenly, pooh-bear, holy words
are what it always came down to
despite the reality
what it still comes down to
those rocket words that you could never hold
in for too long
the ones i’m suddenly finding hard to spill out
on this hot, brooklyn morning in late june
forever your disciple
mosquito bites from a new hampshire carnival
sprouting up all over my body
another morning in america aching over the ocean
like a poem
like a novel whose first words hit your tongue
then unravel on into the infinite


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