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Thread: Sleekit Cowrin’

  1. #11
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    Re: Sleekit Cowrin’

    Domestic

    I've spent the gas money on golf,
    tossed chicken skin at the dogs,
    and in one sitting,
    eaten a box of Cheez-Its.
    My wife is visiting her mother, and I'm staying
    up until 4:00 a.m. and waking at noon.
    I've called up Enrico's Bistro
    for hot wings and beer,
    thrown pizza boxes like Frisbees
    across the family room,
    and clogged the drain
    because peeling a potato
    over the sink is easier
    than over the trash.
    Tonight, I can't get off the couch,
    so I'm watching a film
    by Charlotte Zwerin
    on Thelonious Monk.
    In this black and white footage,
    his wife Nellie is frantically
    walking around the bed
    to give him a belt because
    he's taking too long to put on his socks.
    Then the camera cuts
    to Thelonious shining, dressed,
    and buttoning his blazer
    as Nellie slips him into his trench coat.
    Thelonious at the piano, "I Should Care"
    plays in the background
    at an airport where they sit,
    and he eats an apple, and Nellie waits
    to wipe his chin with a tissue.
    I've been roaming the house
    alone all week, and suddenly,
    I don't mind ten shampoo bottles
    crowding the bathtub,
    none of them empty,
    laundry baskets sprouting flip-flops,
    or junk drawers stuffed
    with overpriced deodorant and make-up.
    I might even be okay
    with being dragged to the Dollar Tree
    where my wife will take
    fifteen minutes to pick out an air freshener.
    Before she gets back tomorrow,
    since the refrigerator is empty,
    I'll leave a note on the door
    for her to meet me at La Boulangerie,
    that fancy French café she loves,
    where I'll wait in the patio
    until she appears, the hem of her dress
    fluttering in the shadows beneath the eaves,
    our table set with coffee,
    open-faced mushroom sandwiches,
    and strawberry tarts that remind me
    of the tulips she grows
    in the garden.
    .






    In a perfect world, our dreams will be fulfilled. There would be no hard work or planning ahead, because everything you want would be given to you. In the real world, where we all live, rewards must be earned. The problem most people have is in the day-to-day details of accomplishment. Accomplishment takes a lot of time, sacrifice and effort, and that’s the real rub for a lot of people. But, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

  2. #12
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    Re: Sleekit Cowrin’

    The End

    One gray animal walked to the edge of morning.
    The moon was behind it and the road
    wound north, an infinite hill.
    And as there was simply no
    reason to proceed
    with the project it had set out on
    days before, it sat down.

    Eyes
    are all I see of its gray face
    staring into the morning
    chilled past all desire
    having at last come to the end.
    .






    In a perfect world, our dreams will be fulfilled. There would be no hard work or planning ahead, because everything you want would be given to you. In the real world, where we all live, rewards must be earned. The problem most people have is in the day-to-day details of accomplishment. Accomplishment takes a lot of time, sacrifice and effort, and that’s the real rub for a lot of people. But, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

  3. #13
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    Re: Sleekit Cowrin’

    The Afterlife

    Oh shabti allotted to me, if I be summoned or if I be detailed to
    do any work which has to be done in the realm of the dead ... you
    shall detail yourself for me on every occasion of making arable
    the fields, of flooding the banks or conveying sand from east to
    west; 'Here am I,' you shall say.
    —The Book of the Dead

    I.

    They're looking a little parched
    after millennia standing side
    by side in the crypt, but the limestone
    Egyptian couple, inseparable
    on their slab, emerge from it as noble
    and grand as you could ask of people
    thirteen inches tall.

    The pleasant, droopy-breasted wife
    smiles hospitably in her gown
    (the V-necked sheath "a style popular
    for the entire 3,000-year
    pharaonic period").
    Her skin is painted paler than his:
    a lady kept out of the sun.
    Bare-chested in his A-line kilt,
    her husband puts his spatulate
    best foot forward, so as to stride
    into a new life.

    Not mummies; more like dummies.
    Not idols, yet not merely dolls.
    Stocky synecdoches
    of the ruling class, they survey
    an entourage of figurines
    at work providing necessaries
    for long days under the reigns
    of dynasties still unborn.

    To serenade them, here's a harpist.
    A dwarf even in life—
    a mascot to amuse the court
    whose music must not be cut short.
    A potter modeling vessels that seem,
    like him, already fired in a kiln.
    Six silos of wheat,
    imaginary granaries.
    A woman of stone grinding grain,
    as she would have, on a quern of stone.
    A woman winnowing grain in a pan.
    Another on her knees, kneading.
    A brewer mashing a vat of beer,
    a butcher slitting the throat
    of a heifer for the hereafter.


    2.

    What had it felt like, a credence
    in the afterlife of art?
    To die, as the departed did,
    comforted by the guaranteed
    incarnation of a statuette;
    to feed then on that slaughtered meat?

    To take a leap from the stock-still
    tyranny of the literal?
    To see the miniature, the fiction
    as a grow-in-the-dark depiction
    of the soon-to-be actual?


    3.

    Aboveground, thought was evolving.
    So many lords and ladies died;
    not everyone could be supplied
    with a finely sculpted retinue
    of laborers to keep them living.

    And how were the high ones to keep
    so many minions at their task?
    The overseer with his whip
    became a smiling, bland convention:
    one foreman for every ten or so
    farmers with a hoe.

    It wasn't only math.
    Something unforeseen
    transforming transfiguration—
    a canny, efficient faith
    that less detail might well stand in
    for the stand-in;
    a simplicity of encryption.

    Hundreds and hundreds of years passed.
    Alabaster, faience, wood,
    the scale of the factotum-totems
    dwindled as numbers multiplied;
    jostled in the mass graves
    of toy-box coffins, they were transported
    by a procession of living slaves
    a little distance, and slipped
    into their niches in the crypt
    for the shelf-life of eternity.

    Thumb-sized effigies wrapped
    in bandages of holy script,
    the hieroglyphed Book of the Dead.

    Words. The nominal vow to work,
    not the enactment of work.
    The shabti held one stylized tool,
    barely identifiable—
    and were serene as Christian saints
    with their hatchets and wheels, the instruments
    of a recurring martyrdom.
    In time they grew more mummiform,
    cross-armed at the chest
    or armless. Finally, curiously, at rest—

    like zeroes who were something
    in being nothing,
    place-markers of their own
    as much as of the master's soul.


    4.

    And on the wall of a vault,
    an artist has drawn himself—
    or a cunning substitute—
    at work, shaping a life-sized shabti
    designed to be his twin:
    a goateed dandy that our mute,
    vainglorious ventriloquist settles on one knee.

    Profile to profile, they stare
    into the mannered mirror
    of the other.

    In whatever kingdom this was
    (by now, the blink
    of one kohl-lined, almond eye),
    what did people think was the lifespan
    of the stunt man who betokens man?
    The shabti sent to make shabti?

    But the question too has shrunken,
    eroded to vocabulary—
    one fine old potsherd of a word
    to be carried from the museum
    like any other item
    in the museum shop:
    a replica necklace, a postcard.

    The visitor is illiterate.
    What did that stone scroll say,
    meant to convert someday
    to the thing it represents, papyrus?
    Even the scribes couldn't read.
    Something about the god Osiris
    who came back from the dead.

    She must be going.
    Feels for the gloves in her pockets,
    empty hands for her hands.

    Opens a door to Chicago,
    where a fine dust is ticking
    coldly onto everything;
    where she is still alive, and it's snowing.
    .






    In a perfect world, our dreams will be fulfilled. There would be no hard work or planning ahead, because everything you want would be given to you. In the real world, where we all live, rewards must be earned. The problem most people have is in the day-to-day details of accomplishment. Accomplishment takes a lot of time, sacrifice and effort, and that’s the real rub for a lot of people. But, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

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