Featured in Colorado Review
Poem in a Rearview MirrorFeatured, Poetry
Published Fall 2010
I’m dreaming of urban renewal right now:
Entropy, abandoned homes, insurance
Scams, the Bronx is burning. When I recall
The past I’m actually in the past. My mind
Is blank. And then it was December. We
Were visiting my mother at Christmas.
I had nothing to read. Time, etc.
I had plenty to write about in my
Black marbled notebook. It was a nice day.
I wanted to go back to see if there was
Something there for me still. I didn’t find
What I was looking for. I bought a book
To learn the alphabet. For instance: “A”
Is for “Agamemnon.” I find myself
Wishing for retribution. On a bench
In Central Park, the old guard seems to be
Getting phased out, and I am now too sleepy
To type out the fragments. The story opens
In a frigid field, the limits of which
Signal a beginning or an end. A young
Lover talking to himself about love.
They have a word for that. Anyhow,
My markings seem to indicate that I
Have read this passage before. Can you tell
I was educated by Jesuits?
Wild profusions of scrawl take over the page.
Beginning at the outer edge, at just
The point at which it rubs against the world,
The yellowing works its way inward, forming
An aura around the words, which will themselves
Succumb to this ineluctable dis-
coloration. One day the edges will crack
And the pages will biodegrade. The book
Will be no more. O Rose, thou art Sick.
Once I tried to write a poem by writing
The opposite meaning of every line
From another poem. It didn’t really work.
At the time I had almost no money
And borrowed all of my books. Our first night
We ate dinner at a little bistro.
Seven feet of snow fell on the city.
It very nearly drowned her quiet voice.
I sometimes wonder if I’ve actually done
The things I think I’ve done, known the people
I think I’ve known, lived in the places
I think I’ve lived, or if I’ve made it up
In order to please myself (and others).
We were living in our last house, the one
We sold that year, if memory serves, sitting
Outside on the porch, watching the children
Attack each other with chestnuts, so it
Must have been in early fall. We talked
About the various cities in which
We’d lived: New York, Vienna, Buffalo,
Silverthorne, Washington, Los Angeles,
Quito, and the minor vicissitudes
Of living in the desert among an
Unfamiliar set of desert creatures.
The outcome, of course, was foretold.
The light from the lamp and the light from the flash
Canceled one another out. I let
The camera wander down to her hands, which
Gestured in ways that seemed to contradict
The things she said. There is, in essence,
No past. What we call “past” is still extant,
Lost among the amassing details of time.
I was catching a nap in the lounge when
I was awakened by a rumbling.
In the center of the room, on top of
The desk, there sat a box of candy squares.
I chose a chocolate wrapped in golden foil,
And I ate it, and it was delicious.
I savored each bite, but then I thought
I should not have eaten that one. It was
The only one, and now it’s gone. Indeed,
The ephemerality of thought serves
Often as a kind of double for the
Ephemerality of life. Now I’m
Feeling sort of sad, as if I could repent
Of something I have or have yet to do.
Michael Kelleher has authored two collections of poems, Human Scale and To Be Sung, both from Blazevox. He lives in Buffalo, NY where he works as Artistic Director of Just Buffalo Literary Center. His ongoing literary memoir project, Aimless Reading, can be found at http://pearlblossomhighway.blogspot.com.