IMAGINE MY SURPRISE WHEN
stepping into my old lonesome self one day,
I found someone else already there. Not just some one, either,
but two or three or four who had found their way into the shape
I usually filled and sat there waiting for me to come along.
One was a silver-haired frat boy in Madras shorts,
one a mad-haired priest of despair with eyes like a prophet.
One was chubby and bald. One had teeth that gleamed when he grinned,
jackal’s teeth. They welcomed me into me, said they’d been waiting.
It was comfortable for a while, though a tight fit. Soon, the edges strained,
seams began to fray, and we all looked at one another
as if our faithful good morning mirror had been lying all along.
One by one, then, they left my self, each exit making breathing
a little easier. The prophet-priest was the last to go, wagging
his finger back at me in that I-told-you-so smugness peculiar
to his kind. Space was mine. Breathing was easy.
Loneliness fit me again, a beloved hairshirt that had never really
shrunk in the wash. What a day, I thought as I sat down to a meal
for one. I passed myself the salt and pretended it made everything better.
‘THE FANTASTIC END OF AMERICA’
First the bang. Then the whimper. Now this.
Our Lady of the Highways hitching a ride west
where even she believes she’ll find the dream.
She ends up hoofing it, skulls like globes underfoot,
indigenous stepping stones across rivers
and arroyos, deserts and grassland plains.
All the ghosts along the way. The Pioneer Spirit
weeping on the edge of the trail. The Angel Moroni
climbing his own golden spires, Kong winged but doomed.
Manifest Destiny itself barely recognizable
among the fast food chain cholesterol plants.
Progress may have stalled, but Our Lady keeps on
truckin’, pedal to the metal, balling the jack,
following the sun as it falls out of the sky
somewhere in the Pacific, gentle waves lapping
the Nevada shoreline. Our Lady hikes up her skirt
and cools her aching dogs in the breakers.
It’s there she sees it, washed up on the sand
like Charlton Heston’s fever dream, the sign
edited by entropy like everything else: