Beginning with Roethke only to say it's a Siken kind of day. I want more applesauce. Less nonsense. More silly string and squirtguns, less third-degree angst. Ever have one of those days that finds you waking (after a year of inquiry and bewilderment) to recall a phonecall of seventy-four minutes that clarified what will soon be an entire year? Back to the S.O.P.T., back to discipline and fewer phonecalls, more books, more writing. The time I have wasted has almost always concerned the same, pointless topics. No more. No more.
"...I arrived in the city and you met me at the station,
smiling in a way
that made me frightened. Down the alley, around the arcade,
up the stairs of the building
to the little room with the broken faucets, your drawings, all your things,
I looked out the window and said
This doesn't look that much different from home,
because it didn't,
but then I noticed the black sky and all those lights.
We walked through the house to the elevated train.
All these buildings, all that glass and the shiny beautiful
We were inside the train car when I started to cry. You were crying too,
smiling and crying in a way that made me
even more hysterical. You said I could have anything I wanted, but I
just couldn't say it out loud.
Actually, you said Love, for you,
is larger than the usual romantic love. It's like a religion. It's
terrifying. No one
will ever want to sleep with you.
Okay, if you're so great, you do it—
here's the pencil, make it work . . .
If the window is on your right, you are in your own bed. If the window
is over your heart, and it is painted shut, then we are breathing
Build me a city and call it Jerusalem. Build me another and call it
We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not
what we sought, so do it over, give me another version,
a different room, another hallway, the kitchen painted over
another bowl of soup.
The entire history of human desire takes about seventy minutes to tell.
Unfortunately, we don't have that kind of time.
Forget the dragon,
leave the gun on the table, this has nothing to do with happiness.
Let's jump ahead to the moment of epiphany,
in gold light, as the camera pans to where
the action is,
lakeside and backlit, and it all falls into frame, close enough to see
the blue rings of my eyes as I say
I never liked that ending either. More love streaming out the wrong way,
and I don't want to be the kind that says the wrong way.
But it doesn't work, these erasures, this constant refolding of the pleats.
There were some nice parts, sure,
all lemondrop and mellonball, laughing in silk pajamas
and the grains of sugar
on the toast, love love or whatever, take a number. I'm sorry
it's such a lousy story.
Dear Forgiveness, you know that recently
we have had our difficulties and there are many things
I want to ask you.
I tried that one time, high school, second lunch, and then again,
years later, in the chlorinated pool.
I am still talking to you about help. I still do not have
I have told you where I'm coming from, so put it together.
We clutch our bellies and roll on the floor . . .
When I say this, it should mean laughter,
I want more applesauce. I want more seats reserved for heroes.
Dear Forgiveness, I saved a plate for you.
Quit milling around the yard and come inside."
"Litany in Which Certain Things Are Crossed Out" by Richard Siken.