Listening for Charlie

1 February 2014

Enough about me,
now tell me about you.

[tiny pause]
What do you think about me?

[silence]

Listen: the 12 foot schooner out on the lake
is but a twig compared to the ship I sailed
as Captain Kidd,
an alias to hide a connection
with Lord Vicious – never my friend
but always close and a beauty.

Charlie, what’s that faraway look as I speak?
Some critique grown in your skull?
My speech is not about me but you and us all.
If I tell you what we ate and smoked there
on that blasted, shipwrecked island,
you’d love the story but be too busy or too cool to respond.

But if you go on about your essay on pathos,
and how this high-toned, well-known
and on-time journal is about to publish
and pay well to print your title,
“The Wealth of Feeling,”
I’ll surely stop you for the health of my mind.

Tell me more (you haven’t said a word)
about your son who fell off a wall
protesting something – your details were lost in the wind;
remember? we were talking in the wind
and soon it was to be my turn.
This much I heard: he’s OK, alive and behaving.

The winds have died down, you devil,
and since you haven’t answered my question
or given any indication of how I look
in your mind’s eye, I’ll talk to myself –
as if no one were sitting across from me
here on the patio, hands slack and silent.

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