Sunday, December 20, 2015

When I Swim in the Pond That Is Language

I think about which team I think
I'm on, which team hates my entrails

Enough to eat them with gusto,
Locavore gumbo, true foodies.

I think about Ken Gordon, boy,
Secular Jew, Republican

Rhapsodizing at the zoo
In New Orleans, twenty years gone,

About various fish dinners
He'd had, made, basted, or tasted.

I think about Pat Smith, old man
In the farthest back, restroom row

Of the bus jet planes have become,
Telling me that he was Baha'i,

Laughing at the silly Mormons,
Bragging about his kids, showing

Yours truly selfies he'd taken
With gorillas in the Congo,

Fretting about retirement, son
Of a man who migrated north

After a lynching, ex-husband
Of a woman who thought he wasn't

Black enough to deserve friendship
With his friend, Stokely Carmichael.

I think about how he whispered
To me as the plane nearly broke

Into pieces in a shuddering
Storm over the Windy City

That he suffered motion sickness,
That nothing in America changed,

That there are angels well-disguised
As people who land in our paths

And block our way, diabolus,
"It all happens for a reason,"

And "we're all on the same team here."
But we're not. We're a league of teams.

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