Poetry by Steve De France Art by Anya Zkwirl (https://500px.com/Zkwirl)
The cashier says, “Have a nice day.”
I whisper, “Sorry I have other plans.”
I head for my 1947 Cadillac.
In the parking lot an ancient pilgrim
in railroad coveralls stands
like a stone in a stream,
her shopping-cart wheels
jammed between cement lines.
She is streaming epithets.
I find the car.
Geno is sprawled over the front seat,
drinking wine & putting finishing touches
to a poem tellings how horrible it is
living in the suburbs with a female lawyer.
And the awful neighbor kids &
how he’d like to kill them.
I start the car & turn toward the exit.
The ancient pilgrim is still leaning
into her cart as if into a high wind.
“I slash throats with a garden hoe,”
screams Geno. I stop the car.
“I crush skulls with a fireplace brick.”
I get out & say hello to the wayfarer,
her teeth slip, I lift her cart over the
gouge in the earth.
“Asshole,” she cries & clenches
her fist to strike.
I jump back in the car.
Geno is still ranting his poem.
“I eviscerate the little bastards &
roast their guts for the dogs.”
“You have a gift,” I tell him, “Pass the wine.”
I’m thinking of Dante’s Inferno.
Canto XVII to be exact:
“Those who have done violence to art.”
As we round the Long Beach Traffic Circle,
I suggest Geno call all the neighbor dogs Cerberus.
CHAOS AND THE COMMON MAN
Drinking morning coffee.
Out my front window I watch a man
standing in the rain—stolidly
cleaning rainwater off his car’s windshield.
Stoically he disregards the weather
as traffic flows about him.
Everywhere there are people like him
executing a superfluous rite,
exacting an extraneous task
partaking of some kind of ritual
performing a private ceremony
that tells the mind I’ve cleaned a scrap of dirt
off my little piece of this world…
I’ve done something! I am not part of the chaos.
Again I look out the kitchen window,
and he still stands like a stone in a stream.
Yes, he has the audacity, the balls, to stand
cleaning his God Damned wet Windshield,
as if he has all the friggin’ time left in creation.
I have a second cup of coffee.
Well, it’s days like this
that just piss me off.
Days full of endless lines
of well-meaning chaps
down on their knees
cleaning a smudge off the carpet,
old crones sweeping the alley,
Park Rangers picking up leaves in the forest.
Watching TV—I pour a third
cup of coffee. CNN is showing
citizens blown apart—bodies
smoking in the streets of Iraq.
Telling myself that caffeine
facilitates all thoughtful people
into reflecting on chaos.
I decide to consider uncertainty,
Then the lilies of the field,
Then the Aurora Borealis
I pour the remaining coffee into my cup.
Here we are on a one-way trip
pushing into a perplexed cosmos,
a cosmos spinning into, or out of,
some scientific fiction—a fictive thing
called an unknowable black hole.
Feeling philosophically vulnerable I speculate—
then extrapolate on a black hole in space,
a rip in the universe…sucking all of us
into an eternal vortex.
The rest of us stare from our respective windows
at the devastations of the ignorant. We see a
world mortally wounded—-broken.
The death cock crows—as by fading light
the Savage Armies of Night race across barren
sands till they crash into a thing called eternity.
souls are being weighed against a feather.
I finish my coffee—the old man drives off.
Chaos is much closer than I thought.