I have a better memory than most.
It’s no more to my credit than the hue
of hair and eyes. I claim it not to boast
but in description. I’ve abetted too,
by writing journals, diaries, and verse
about my days. I want to keep correct
my private history, avoid the curse
nostalgia, and unerringly reflect.
My practice is a lonely one. My friends
appear less motivated to recall
events and moods precisely, less inclined
to work to recollect. They’ve other ends,
I guess – they don’t care what their backgrounds haul.
And anyway, they’ve all lost bits of mind.
Of course I knew him. We were intimate
young lovers all through college. We revealed
ourselves to one another, tried to fit
the romance in our visions. Neither kneeled,
but we embraced. We might have made a go
of us, except his mother’s suicide
derailed him, caused a pause and cast him low.
I couldn’t flourish at the pace we tried.
Achieving friendship as the decades flowed,
we stayed in touch. He visited at times.
We furthered our acquaintance. Now I know
his family was poor compared to mine,
his parents flaky, and himself devout.
The love I thought I understood I doubt.
She doesn’t recollect herself that well.
I met her at 18 and we’ve been close,
but she denies her past. I sometimes tell
her what she said or did, or how she chose
her course, but she’ll debate – she doesn’t feel
as if it went that way. She won’t review
the letters she composed; they’ve no appeal –
she says she isn’t interested in true
as much as in what’s possible right now.
But if today’s a product of the past,
a present made of yesterdays, then how
can we assay ourselves without a cast
back-lit? She doesn’t crave the facts I seek,
but she forgets the things she said last week.
If you were raised by someone diligent,
impatient, who was born without or lost
the spectrum of emotions, one who spent
all time at tasks and voiced whatever crossed
her mind, but never said she meant no wrong,
intending well or neutrally at worst,
then you’d excel at understanding strong
self-referential bosses with a thirst
for adulation and attention’s glow.
You’d smile at non-sequiturs and nod
at solipsistic statements. You would know
that rearing individual is no god.
If you’d engaged with one like that, like me,
you’d know we’ve tactics but no strategy.
I travel with anxiety. I go,
I revel in sensation and aspect,
but I’m away from home, my stuff – I grow
impatient for my comforts. I’m half-wrecked,
off-base but fascinated with the scene.
I watch a culture, learn a tendency
outside my own. The stimulation’s keen –
immersion in new anthropology.
And lately, though the distance isn’t far,
I twice a week live elsewhere than my place.
I cross the bay to where some offspring are,
and witness them in awkwardness and grace.
I love the exercise, but I confess
it makes a mood resembling travel stress.
I listened to an architect one day,
who lectured, if we want to take the road
to smart design and use, then come what may,
we have to give first place to the commode.
“For we can cook outside, or get a meal
with money, but when stomachs are upset
we need our toilets. Squat or stand or kneel,
the throne’s the head and center. Don’t forget.”
Four years ago, I watched a man install
a brand new Toto toilet, to upgrade
the quality of plumbing in my small
abode. But it went wrong when it was made;
it crapped out intermittently. I had
that sorry shit replaced, and now I’m glad.
I’ve always been an anarchist of sorts:
I’d like to modulate the role of laws,
and settle all disputes outside the courts
without a thread of violence, because
I think our species capable of fair
behavior, moral compass, empathy.
Self-confidence requires us to square
our logic. Reason is our specialty.
So I’ve imagined superseding rules;
I’ve wondered if we should eliminate
positions, regulations – all the tools
preserving the administrative state.
I’m sorry, but I fear my strategy
would look like what we’re seeing in D.C.