Slow Fuse Around the Cranium
Another gutshot dawn, and the day
Wakes to a crow alarm clock.
Have the birds turned anti-American, little
Feathered terrorists in the heartland of sleep?
Inside the wreckage, I can’t tell if
The coffee cup’s half empty or half full,
But it’s all caffeine, wetting down
That thistle at the back of my throat.
Ah, sun, it’s a hard morning
For you, too, those low clouds black
As a pew of Presbyterian elders, set
To ruin your reputation for a hot time.
For weeks now, the air’s hung heavy
Over everything, the soap so soft
It’s like a palmful of ectoplasm: not even
A cold shower can make me come clean.
For weeks now, my mind’s felt both
Shifty and shiftless, brain waves no more than
Motion in love with itself, and less spry
Than old women with a leg up on ninety.
Maybe I should move from the Midwest
To the Mideast, some sandy place you know
Where you stand, like a lame camel,
Bad knees bent between God and atrocity.
But the heat’s already here, and the caterpillars
Have raised their tents in the summer trees.
Why stir the one-eye mullahs, when I can
Flay myself in the doldrums of my own home?
I’m at the age for adages and elegies:
What there’s no help for, let go. Not until
The fat’s in the fire will it sing for you.
Even the sheen of day darkens in the dark heart.
Like those spazzed-out insects on the patio,
I’ve spun myself to a dither, and who knows
When I’ll come sliding back, bone and soul,
To the absolute enormities of whatever life
The future might ring in, the rich bronze
Midnight tone of some Mongolian death gong,
Loud enough to stun the years and make me take it
All in good faith and down to the quick.