wounds of childhood open at the same time Professor Hastings
is seized by words and the aura they bring. When he was a boy
he would read Wordsworth while taking the train to school. Now,
on his veteran ride to suburbia, he dreams his book will become
a sun and all his enemies assume their station around it like
planets, or at the very least, he embarrasses them, so that
they suffer a fatal blush. He thinks, too, of the hustler he
knows, thin and smooth as a coin. Jonah brings men back to his
apartment that butts against the La for money and sex, while
his roommate keeps watch from the other bedroom. Some young
men have such courage, but hardly ever find the courage to be
kind. Jonah always looks up at the ceiling, as the lips of warm
surf undulate with his silent tongue of contempt. The voice
of his mother rings in his ears, You are poisoning my family.
Go away! This is why he left home. How the spoor of compromise
grows in us, to middle age, and then we get fat and cannot even
clip our toenails without gasping for breath. This is why men
with books seek out Jonah's body. Afterwards, the dollar bills
unfold like the lap of the lake against the shores of autumn.
A hum of fans moves the humid air of the city from one room
to another. Our civil war between justice and virtue wages on.
Outside, wheels bleed a steel kiss as
they bend to meet the curve.
Klein Engler lives in Chicago and New Orleans. He holds degrees
from the University of Illinois at Urbana and The University
of Chicago Divinity School. He was a department chair for many
years at the City Colleges of Chicago. He now teaches at Roosevelt
University. His poems and stories have appeared in Borderlands,
Hyphen, Christopher Street, The James White Review, American
Letters and Commentary, Kansas Quarterly, and many other magazines
and journals. He was the recipient of Illinois Arts Council
Literary Awards for his poem Flower Festival at Genzano, which
appeared in Whetstone and Three Poems for Kabbalah, which appeared
in Fish Stories, II.