I know we are primarily water, evolved from water,
& I’m reminded of such when my coffee starts gurgling, percolating,
An opera singer drowning, the guttural loose phlegm in his lungs.
A plumber & apprentice pace my private property in this post-dawn. Laurel
& Hardy. Frick & Frack. Abbott & Costello. Combing for the source of the leak,
The overflow, like 19th century homesteaders pacing the North 40 with hazel wands.
If one lives long enough, all of us, become comedic caricatures of ourselves,
With cartoonish silent sidekicks. Of course, early herbalists poisoned
Themselves before the observant documented which mushrooms the wildlife
Avoided. Think of knowledge this way: the doorbell rings & you can’t
Make it downstairs in time & feel a sense of, if not loss, something’s missing,
Or you stare into an empty mailbox, swipe your paw around that emptiness
To confirm the vacancy. You even open & close the door a few more
Times because you can’t completely believe that only emptiness exists.
Here’s the rub: people roll up towels & wedge them at the base of doors
To keep the smoke in, to keep the flood at bay, so the car’s carbon monoxide
Exhaust won’t Genie in from the garage. I will never be a boy again said the boy
After his mother’s cremation. And I’ll pretend I’m still alive whispered his mother
In the language of wind & ash. How many times, when your car doesn’t turn over,
Do you turn the ignition? Till the engine floods? Till you admit to yourself
It’s just plain dead? Do you deceive yourself or find the world incongruous?
Saturated? Like an illiterate bookmarking a page in his hardcover of Moby Dick,
Or a sun-snow-shower in the Sonoran Desert, or fire station # 24 in flames
& no hydrant, or a fat man carving a solitary M&M with a rubber knife & fork
In a child-miniature kitchen with a checkered napkin tucked in his collar,
Squeezing into a tiny chair. But this pain’s not even worth acknowledging,
Like clipping a finger nail a millimeter too short so the cuticle bleeds
Ever so slightly as a delayed reaction. I’ve never gotten a shoeshine
In an airport but think about it when faced with a delay or cancellation.
An empty parking as opposed to a driverless car with an idling engine.
Would this people-less dilemma be my existential crisis?
There will always be some hothead late for an appointment
He’s sure is vital to all humankind, brandishing a crowbar over his head
(He keeps stashed under his seat) as he screams at the meeker man
(Now both outside their vehicles) pointing at newly dented fenders,
Chipped paint & fractured headlights. Mosaics on the gravel road.
Life is a collage. Making the artistic from the accidental, the recently
Destroyed, the unrepairable. Only a forward-thinking genius
Could have invented the concept of life insurance! The world cannot
Continue to exist without new thinking. So, a shy boy asks a girl for a light
Instead of her phone number. She palms him her lit her cigarette to ignite his.
A chain reaction begins. By the end of the cross-country flight a busybody
Knows the entire family history of the flight attendant. They swap phones numbers
& promises. The man, now at the airport bar, fingers an ice cube from his gin with a hair in it.
His wife has been believing for half a century the diamond in her engagement ring
is authentic—an heirloom. What’s the harm if one never discovers the truth?
Isn’t it relatively harmless, like a waitress saying the coffee is decaffeinated?
Not life threatening like when the waiter says the Cheng Du Chicken was not stir-fried
In peanut oil. Sometimes when your own throat swells shut & you don’t even know
The cause. Sometimes a chicken bone gets caught in your windpipe. I once had
A strange Thanksgiving in the desert where the host forgot to defrost the turkey.
He submerged the frozen bird in a bathtub filled with tepid water. You can’t help thinking
About the metaphor of landlocked Salmon. What is your one unique, vowel-laden,
Syllable you involuntarily blurt out from unexpected pain, when you stub your toe
In the dark? A half-naked college girl wraps herself in a top sheet before tiptoeing
To the bathroom & guzzling from the faucet. No toilet paper & no flushing
& she can’t remember their name or gender or how she got there & now gimps back to bed.
A Japanese ramen joint where talking is prohibited. One must be comfortable
With the communicative joyful sound of slurping the scolding broth. I couldn’t have
Survived childhood without my plastic Fort Apache, positioning the Soldiers & Sioux
For hours. I was always the Indians & the index-fingered battle lasted only seconds.
Was that the perfect life-metaphor or a precursor to my life? Last winter, my friend
Waded out, in his tuxedo, into the ocean. His beach private. Yes, I’m haunted by
That bathtub with a half-defrosted turkey, comforted by the welcoming gurgle
Of pre-dawn coffee, water escaping down the drain. I think I’m less vulnerable
Because I now reside in a rural place, but the Well (our only source of water)
Has “turned positive”, overflowing on the lawn, making a small section absurdly
Green, creating an impromptu birdbath which the sparrows have homesteaded,
Who flutter & splash & sip, not omniscient or oblivious, just exceedingly happy.