December 20, 2006

We're gonna find the meaning of feeling good
and we're gonna stay there as long as we think we should



Alfred Leslie, Untitled, 1960, Mixed media and collage on board

I Live in the Twentieth Century
-- by Richard Brautigan

I live in the Twentieth Century
and you lie here beside me. You
were unhappy when you fell asleep.
There was nothing I could do about
it. I felt hopeless. Your face
is so beautiful that I cannot stop
to describe it, and there's nothing
I can do to make you happy while
you sleep.

Autumn
-- by John Brehm

It is to the small satisfactions
we must return, for surely
the great ones fail us.
The unexpected face, the way
evening's slow descent, when
everything is poised for her
arrival, astonishes the day.
And then the steady, familiar
things, houses and trees, suddenly
precise, alive and themselves.
These will do for us now,
now that we have given up on
matters of brooding consequence,
now that such a leisure
of wind, studying the leaves
more closely, lifts them up,
bright in the pure, black air.

From His Bed in the Capital City
-- by David Berman

The highway commissioner dreams of us.
we are driving by christmas tree farms
wearing wedding rings with on / off switches,
composing essays on leg room in our heads.

We know there is a policy like ice sculpture,
policy that invisibly dictates the shape
of the freeway forests and the design
of the tollbooths that passing children
send their minds into.

Photography's remainder is sound and momentum,
which were we looking to pare off the edges
of the past anyway, so snapshots of mom
with a kitchen table hill of cocaine
or the dog frozen in the attitude
of eating raw hamberger
get filed under "misc. americana,"
though only partially contained there,
as beads of sap are always leaking
from the columns of the bar graph.

The voices of the bumperstickers tangle in our heads
like cafeteria noise and we can't help but be aware
that by making this trip, by driving home for christmas,
we are assuming some classic role.
It is the role he has cast us in: "holiday travelers."

He dreams us safely into our driveways
and leaves us at the flickering doors.

Coming To This
-- by Mark Strand

We have done what we wanted.
We have discarded dreams, preferring the heavy industry
of each other, and we have welcomed grief
and called ruin the impossible habit to break.

And now we are here.
The dinner is ready and we cannot eat.
The meat sits in the white lake of its dish.
The wine waits.

Coming to this
has its rewards: nothing is promised, nothing is taken away.
We have no heart or saving grace,
no place to go, no reason to remain.

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