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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The River Has No Hair to Hold Onto (Ralph Angel)

It's only common sense (not that they know the score,
they don't avoid it). And so one's life story
is begun on a paper napkin and folded into a coat pocket
to be retrieved later when it's darker
and cooler, and closer. And onward

to rockier ground, where conversation is impassable
and human beings matter more than
the light that glimmers beneath the horizon
before sinking into our own inaudible sigh (a long way
from these fur-covered hands). And somehow

the deal is struck. Money gets made.
And the small shocks one undergoes for no reason,
the bus driver handing you a transfer, a steamy
saxophone ascending the jungle. The city
lays down its blanket of rippling

lamplight as though exhaustion too
was achieved by consensus, and what one does
and how one feels have nothing to do with one's self.
No, this can't be the place, but it must be
the road that leads there, always beginning

when morning is slow and hazy, suffering to get somewhere
with all the memorable mistakes along the way,
piecing them together, arriving,
believing that one arrives at a point different from
the starting point, admitting things still aren't clear.

A rag doll on a dark lawn injures the heart
as deeply as the sea air filling one's lungs
with a sadness once felt in a classroom,
a sadness older than any of us.
And the dogs barking, challenging cars. And the willows

lining the sidewalk, lifting their veils
to the inscrutable surface of wood. (Someone
is trying to get a message through. Someone thinks
you'll understand it).

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