The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

By Richard Tayson

I’m late for the birth-
day party, it’s one
of those cool after-

noons when the world
is clear, is made
of glass, the sky

so blue you want to
look up at the very
center of its pupil

in case you get
a glimpse of what
comes after

we leave here. I’m
thinking my lover’s
sister is thirty-two

today, but I want
to let time stand
still, let the tourists

go on waving their
America the Beautiful
flags across 49th

Street, let the three
ladies whose hair
is the color of smoke

rising and ghosts
taking leave of their
senses go on laughing,

near the fountain, may
we all not have
a care in the world. But

it’s August 23rd, I must
get on the train, yet
a tree keeps holding

my attention, its leaves
luscious from the summer
rain, there’s a canopy

beneath which the Pakistani
man I talked to last
week sells his salty

sauerkraut, lifting
the lid and letting out
steam each time he

serves it over hot
dogs, and the man
pays him then turns

toward me, his thick
muscled arm tan
in the sun, the tattoo:

WAR. The day

is gone, the people
around me gone, I am
trying not to forget

that I’m a pacifist,
trying not to pay
attention to his name-

brand shorts and sun
glasses that won’t
let you see a glint

of eye behind them,
I’m trying not to watch
him eat the hot dog in two

bites and nudge the woman
beside him who pushes
a stroller, his arm around

her waist as he pivots and
sees me staring. Yes he might
leap to the right, grab

my throat punch
me shoot me gut
me clean as a fish

taken from the black glass
of the city’s river street, but
the church bells are tolling,

people are saying
their prayers three blocks
from here in the hushed

dark. So I take a deep
breath and am no longer
here, I haven’t been

born yet, there is no state
of California, no Gold
Rush or steam

engine, electricity hasn’t
been invented, people
cross open spaces

on horses, no Middle
Passage, and I watch
the Huns kill the Visigoths

who slice the throats
of every living
Etruscan, a crowning

city is razed, the virgins
raped, one nation
fights for land

to walk on, then are
walked on until
someone carves on a cave

wall, then someone
writes on papyrus,
until we do it all

again, right up to
concentration camps, rivers
flowing with nuclear

waste. 49th Street
floods back, and the man
with the tattoo turns

away, as if he’s decided
not to crack my skull
open and drink me

today, the 965th day
of the new century. War
goes into fifth month. The church

bells stop and the ladies
get up and walk
toward Radio City

and while I don’t believe
in an eye for an eye, I have
a flash lasting no longer

than it takes for a nuclear
blast to render this city
invisible, shadow

of a human arm I’ve torn
from its socket, its left
hand gripping the air.


I had a great library day, and I didn't even take out any books! I have been coveting for a long time the audio recording of The Return of the Native read by Alan Rickman, but because it's 12 cassettes, it's quite expensive. Awhile ago it occurred to me to look and see whether my public library system had it anywhere, and sure enough, they did! I had to put myself on the waiting list but last night they sent me an e-mail that they were holding it for me, so I went to pick it up. And in addition to my hours and hours of Rickman reading to me about a witch, I found the two-disc set of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which I never tracked down because we had it on videotape, and the entire run of Brideshead Revisited.

We all watched Rosencrantz and Guildenstern tonight while playing a family Scrabble game that I believe was ultimately won by the cats, who traipsed across the board one time too many; younger son had great letters and I helped him use all of them but despite the fact that he was winning, he got bored, and older son was frustrated that despite repeated forays in the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, he did not manage to find a way to use all his letters and get the extra points. Hubby brought home Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on DVD, too, so we have many happy hours of watching ahead of us. I did not get any reading done but I did get to transcribe one of the funniest Shatner interviews ever, from The Tony Danza Show the other day, in which Danza geeks out and begs him to play Kirk for him and Shatner says that Spader tries to cuddle him all the time. Hee! It's here, along with the news bullet about Spader taking Shatner as his date to the Stones concert.

Late at night we watched Rome which we can't watch Sundays because the kids might see. Whoo! I am going to be so sad in two episodes when this series is finished -- it's a guilty pleasure (Sex and the Ancient City) but the actors are all great, there are about five different storylines gripping my interest and it's still pushing some of my perv buttons even though there's lots more violence and lots less sex these days. I love hot conspiring older women. *g*

Rosie and Cinnamon take over younger son's and my letters when we get up to put our cups in the sink.

Rosie was content at first to take over a lap, but when that lap got up to go into the kitchen... became necessary to take over the board instead. And look, younger son helped me adopt a virtual pet:

my pet!

Tomorrow the kids have half-days and we have a conference with younger son's teacher. I may be quite crazed with a houseful of boys by evening.

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