TOWARD A BETTER LIFE
Some coworkers of mine pool for Powerball.
A lock, they figure, being forty-five strong
and the odds only two hundred million long.
They plan their escape. “I’ll give two weeks,”
says one. Another: “I’ll give the finger.”
“I’m going to buy my sister a beige Caddy,”
says a third showing great theoretical generosity.
Disappointment drops upon all like a fishnet.
My little blond friend sits particularly glum.
She prayed for days. Says, “I’m a good person.”
And me: “The universe won’t notice. Too busy
expanding.” She: “Ten more years here. I’ll die.”
Me: “Dark energy drives it, whatever that is,
which the mind sees and the eye can’t blink away.”
A T.V. ACTRESS’ NAME APPEARS IN RED CHANNELS
Greylisted in 1952
Nobody called to tell me
I’d become unknown.
Nobody called at all.
I smoked a fog and counted
down to nothing.
A friend tried to wake me in his arms.
“This will pass,” he said.
He did, anyway.
I emceed a telethon.
Chased third world health
down the halls of the U.N.
Never trusted people—
A premature anti-fascist.
Who knew you could hate
evil too soon. On beaten
streets, under sorrowful skies,
against Spain’s Nazi bombers
and the lyncher’s noose,
I signed whatever I signed.
Your secrets are your business.
My soul is mine.
AFTER THE ADVENTURE
Lunchtime, we snuck to the Sheraton
separately. She said she’d wondered
what I’d be like. Disappointing, I half hoped.
I didn’t want us to have a long life.
Nothing rivaled that first Christmas-party
lunge across tipping bar stools.
Two coworkers overleaping their vows
in a bomb blast of only dropped glass.
Why didn’t I ever think I should be sorry?
Where’s the part of me that’s more of a man?
Everybody who loves me, I love back.
Nobody who knows me knows it all.
She microwaves with coworkers in the pantry.
I keep to the internal stairwell. Check my watch
to know what I’ll know again fifteen
minutes from now, fifteen minutes from then.