GUERNICA

Imagine, if you will,
Beethoven counting out sixty beans of coffee
before making one cup,
and if you can picture that,
you may be able to understand the Eroica Symphony
or, at least, a few of the string quartets.

I often thwart sleep
thinking about Beckett
and why Krapp seems obsessed,
as if by name, with indigestion
when good ole Sam
would hole himself up in the siege
with scrambled eggs and red wine.

Then, there is Alice Munro,
like so many women,
who raised children and wrote short stories
(at the same time, mind you)
in a series of long midnights:
where is the time to be a Salinger
when there is duty, responsibility, all of that?

“What’s the point?”
one may ask,
when changing a dirty diaper
or mowing the lawn
or paying taxes
or visiting Grandma at the home.

I look in the mirror,
and I see the silent gray surface of the moon in my eyes.
I am an artist without a sketchbook.
My scars are not filed away in old drafts.
My regrets are placed neatly onstage for general admission.
My atonal future is dancing uncertain and unwieldy
with a limp on its left, bionic side.

The truth is that
my heart has been tattooed in blue-black ink
across the backs of napkins and in coffee shop restrooms, 
in the eyes of old friends
and in hugs that I hold on to more now,
five seconds, ten:
the real truth is that there is no truth,
that we all do the best we can in some way or another,
some do it with a paintbrush
or eight times a week
and some do it better than you,
but you should do it if you want —
make a cup of coffee with sixty beans if you want —
there is no point to this poem
other than to say
I’ll still be here
with my scars on display
because, truth be told, 
if I want a chance to understand
what survives of the truth,
I may have already said too much,
and that’s why I’m alive to begin with.

 

 

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