Ask For Something Else, Nachiketa

She gathers in the mist the mornings I don’t feel like writing.
Then sends me a book of poetry that’ll be my wings or my demise.

It’s a compromise, this life of the hand life of the mind.

Theft is a compromise. I agree that you can steal my life but will you please give some back in the end.

Poetry is how you bury anything sufficiently of substance, of sustenance – how the rain works the hazel under the camouflage of the leaves, how the nut hides in crevices of the earth and takes on foreign tones, like to disappear.

Here we are. Turning, disappearing. Turning to be found.
Children playing hide and seek.

What is transgressive poetry? I wonder. I’m quite sure I don’t write that.

No, I’m writing something like Common Sense, something like The Prince. I’m going to write legs on the snake and be famous.

Now, a story:

Customer (smiling, with confusion lifted): I thought it was the price of the purse.

Cashier: No, it was the basket.

Customer (resigned, confident): Oh, well. It is still a discount.

Cashier: Every little bit helps.

Customer: Oh, I can make it stretch, let me tell you. Its taken me 70 years but I can make it stretch.

Cashier: I know what you’re saying. I’ve had 5$ in my wallet for 3 weeks now. And it’s just been sitting there. I’m going to wait until I really need it.

Customer: Good for you.

It was the way that she said, “every little bit helps” without the hint of tiredness, as if she’s never been bored with a phrase in her life, never bored with a thought repeated and I wondered what deprivations she’d achieved with that 5$ in her pocket, how many meals forfeit.

Then she tells me that the size 12 sandals I’m buying for my daughter aren’t going to fit my feet. And I’m not good at these kind of pleasantries. So I smile and slightly chuckle in what I assume is a polite way but secretly fear it makes her feel uncomfortable.

If I could only blend in completely.
“Ask for something else, Nachiketa.”

Painting by George Catlin


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