Summer 2000


Jim Tyack



If I sing at all I sing with whatever
is handy. Words and wood, some paper
and a smudge of paint, the praises cutting
a piece of cardboard just right,
the perfect vowel sound before
a fricative, snap of wrist flicking
the brush to transform
night to nitre.

Oh to have the power to undo curses.
Unfold them. Wrinkled psalms, cold
translucent cracks in logic, absorb
them like rainstorms absorb artifice,
like Arm and Hammer absorbs odors
from an old refrigerator.

I'd love to know what Dionne Warwick
knows about tropical fish.

On the kitchen table
a stainless steel spoon
in an empty ice cream carton.
"You ate the whole quart?" she asks.
"How about the beer?"
"No, that's still in the car." I say.

After breakfast and the N.Y. Times
I walk the mall, flying through indoor clouds,
the floating ghosts of Guernica,
against shoppers' psychic storms
the abrasion of unseen currents,
up the steps of some monolithic secular church
where demands for sanctuary are ignored.
The Gestapo know I am a Pisces,
and they won't take a raincheck.

If in front of a firing squad they ask me
my last wish, I'll tell them I want the house
special, and hope that when my toast falls
off the plate it lands jelly-side up.
I won't ask for a final cigarette,
just tell them I have already read Camus.
It would be nice if they could turn down the lights.





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