I don’t know what to do about your daughter, Michael.
I press my palm against the porthole. It leaves a smudge like my prints on the enlistment paperwork. In the span between my fingers the station diminishes, compares itself to Triton’s bulk and loses. I imagine Ema inside, impossibly small, with her own hand against the isinglass windows mirroring mine.
I came upon a general marshalling her headlines. They stood in neat rows with their boots and buttons polished and their umlauts on straight. When she sent them forth they marched all together and saluted.
My words escaped years ago and fled to the hills crying Revolution!
When the dictionary fell, it was not to those soldiers in their crisply serifed Times New Roman but to the guerilla words, slipping from mouth to mouth in the cover of night, between the bars of cells and the pages of letters. Freedom. Equality. Love.
I cannot write at all today:
I concentrate but every word
remains unwritten; stays unheard.
My inspiration’s gone astray.
On the news tonight there’s a bombing
Somewhere, some nameless city
All cities look the same
stripped to their bones
Concrete and steel hanging out indecently from the corners
And under the skirts of windows
You can’t even tell if the photos are in color
There’s so much dust and blood
On the news tonight there’s a talent show
A baton twirler; I didn’t know kids still did that
But they must
The way kids will still play in a mud puddle if you let them
The way kids will still pick up a stick and make a sword
Or a wand
Or a gun
The way kids dance when music comes on
And it’s easy to forget when all you see is the steel slips of buildings
And the white dust and the black blood
That somewhere in that city there is still a talent show going on
That somewhere in that city people are shopping for groceries
Because you still need toilet paper
When people are dying
And you still need bread and that funny pre-sliced cheese
Even though the awnings you walk to work under are broken buildings
People are still going to work
Feeding their dogs
In February I stood in Birkenau
And watched train tracks converging in the distance.
“It looked normal,” the guide said.
The tracks stopped before the treeline.
I pruned the rosebush today
against oncoming winter
“You can’t hurt it like that, go ahead and cut it to the ground” you told me
and like every year I did
But as I put the shears against the first branch I thought of summer
and how the vines crept up the fence,
each branch thrust forth from the stub of last year’s roses and reaching for the sun
in those months with no November
No inevitable rot of leaf and thorn
just the urge to blossom
thoughtlessly and profligately
The shears in my hand were sharp
like first frost
that cut your tongue and make you bleed
“Cutting makes it stronger” you said
and I looked at the rose
and like every fall I apologized
and I cut
The new grass hid beneath our feet
and flowers still slept in their buds
when you and I arranged to meet.
The gutters overflowed with mud
and every street contained a flood:
the rain had settled in to stay.
But hearts and lips were warm with blood;
the season ended, day by day
And in the sullen summer heat
of county fairs and marching bands
your snowcone kisses, cool and sweet-
you said – I said – I understand:
the twilights in the old bandstand,
the shadeless blue of each mid-day.
But time’s a cotton candy strand:
the season ended, day by day
The sun was shining on the wheat;
the tamarack stood tall and gold
when afternoons were bittersweet
and heralded the coming cold:
I saw the leaves begin to fold
and fade and curl and fall away.
I asked, I pleaded, I cajoled;
The season ended, day by day.
The fields are drifted, soft and white;
the birds have fled to Monterey.
The shortest day; the longest night.
The season ended, day by day
Probably shouldn’t tell people to write a ballade if I don’t take a shot at it myself, right? There’s no real RULE about the rhyme scheme so I changed up my b rhyme in every verse and let’s just go ahead and pretend that’s not because I fell in love with one line in the first verse but had picked a crap b rhyme which would have required me to reuse words.
Well, aren’t you a special snowflake,
expecting me to edit this document
when you haven’t even saved it to the network?
Look, mister, we have a network
for a reason. That reason is that, unlike a snowflake,
a contract needs version control. Not to pretend like versions 1 and 2 are each a different document.
So you can take your document…
And you can save it to the network…
No, really, just click on the little icon over there that looks like a snowflake.
(I’m going to cut a paper snowflake out of each page of this goddamn document and tape it to the wall and then head to the bar to “network.”)
December always makes me want to write a tritina. A lot of tritinas, actually. Dunno what it is about the season. This week’s version was brought to you by 3 words from Melony.