Featured Poem 9/28/03

Almost Simultaneous

It’s raining. Cars and puddles make
music. Phone call says my son has cat scratch
disease. Remedies abound.
The poplar’s first catkins appear. It’s 89 degrees
in Bahrain, the convoy is three days from Baghdad.
My next door neighbor’s eating a bowl of cereal
on his back porch. His wife left him last week.
I walk to my garage to work out.
He doesn’t see me. I wonder if the person
who invented the Catherine Wheel is in hell.
My mother died at this moment ten years ago today.
It’s quiet here, dumbbells in a heap. Rolling Stones’
Steel Wheels in the tape player.
I picture another troop who stares into the camera,
says I’m here for Iraqi freedom. Hi, Mom and Dad,
(his girlfriend). I’ll be home for your prom. He hopes.
It’s still raining. Bench presses sometimes take the place
of sonnets. My neighbor keeps his Rottweiler chained,
even in the rain. Dog bark. The peace of tigers—they don’t
kill their own—is hard to understand. I’m sweating
for an ounce or two of strength. Laughter
makes us live longer—ha ha. A commentator dies
from a blood clot because he stayed too long
in one spot in the killing machine.
My neighbor wants to know why I’m building
a fence between our property.
I wonder if cereal is an antidote to loneliness.
It’s almost a mystery: my poplar’s flowers have no
petals and are unisexual. Sirens in Baghdad,
people buying melons, two old men smoking,
hunched over a game of backgammon.
Bush gets high marks on a physical.
Rock and roll and biceps blasting.
Almost a threnody, as Keith Richards growls
I got those fuckin’ blues.

© Charles Cantrell

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