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The Little Review
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Poem for Tuesday, Musicals, Baltimore Sunday


A House Divided
By Kyle Dargan

On a railroad car in your America,
I made the acquaintance of a man
who sang a life-song with these lyrics:
"Do whatever you can/ to avoid
becoming a roofing man."
I think maybe you'd deem his tenor
elitist, or you'd hear him as falling
off working-class key. He sang
not from his heart but his pulsing
imagination, where every roof is
sloped like a spire and Sequoia tall.
Who would wish for themselves, another,
such a treacherous climb? In your America,
a clay-colored colt stomps, its hooves
cursing the barn's chronic lean.
In your America, blood pulses
within the fields, slow-poaching a mill saw's
buried flesh. In my America, my father
awakens again thankful that my face
is not the face returning his glare
from above eleven o'clock news
murder headlines. In his imagination,
the odds are just as convincing
that I would be posted on a corner
pushing powder instead of poems--
no reflection of him as a father nor me
as a son. We were merely born
in a city where the rues beyond our doors
were the streets that shanghaied souls.
To you, my America appears
distant, if even real at all. While you are
barely visible to me. Yet we continue
stealing glances at each other
from across the tattered hallways
of this overgrown house we call
a nation--every minute
a new wall erected, a bedroom added
beneath its leaking canopy of dreams.
We hear the dripping, we feel drafts
wrap cold fingers about our necks,
but neither you or I trust each other
to hold the ladder or to ascend.

--------

I got to spend another day with dementordelta, who stayed over after we saw Ramin Karimloo in Baltimore on Sunday night. We had a lot to catch up on -- the Les Miserables miniseries with Gerard Depardieu and John Malkovich (we all agreed that Javert was under-characterized and didn't talk about the law enough, but Valjean's creepiness with Cosette and Marius's creepiness in general were bigger issues, though Fantine is much better and the Thenardiers are great). Then we watched Love Never Dies, which has all the same flaws as the first time I saw it (redeeming the Phantom at the expense of every single other character = Not The Best Idea) but has some lovely songs.

We ordered pizza, which Daniel even came downstairs to eat with us. Then, since we were having a Ramin weekend, we watched the 25th anniversary Les Miserables concert with the bonus Four Valjeans. That has all the same assets as the last time I saw it and very few flaws (even Joe Jonas doesn't bother me, since I have trouble feeling sorry for Marius in the best of circumstances). And I really love seeing Colm Wilkinson, Judy Kuhn, Frances Ruffelle, et al in the encores. (Karimloo plays Enjolras in the main cast.) After Delta had to go home, I had dinner with my family and tried to catch up with e-mail (warning: this will take another day). Some photos from Sunday:


Michael Rosman performing tricks in the Inner Harbor.


We usually see him as the Squire of the Wire at the Maryland Renfaire.


Delta and myself by the harbor. You can see Pride of Baltimore II docked to the right of the USS Constellation.


There's also a pirate ship that cruises in the harbor. These pirates sing (though not, so far as we can tell, Gilbert and Sullivan).


It'sugar candy store has everything from malted milk balls to Hello Kitty Pez dispensers to novelty breath fresheners.


Ramin Karimloo and his band came into the audience to play "Fiddler's Green" for an encore.

Jor-El arrested Wolverine for stealing...
...a loaf of bread and hiding it in his pants.
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Best wishes to people in Oklahoma or who had loved ones in the path of the storms.
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