If I could see nothing but the smoke From the tip of his cigar, I would know everything About the years before the war. If his face were halved by shadow I would know This was a street where an EATS sign trembled And a Greek served coffee black as a dog's eye. If I could see nothing but his wrist I would know About the slot machine and I could reconstruct The weak chin and ruin of his youth, the summer My father was a gypsy with oiled hair sleeping In a Murphy bed and practicing clairvoyance. I could fill his vast Packard with showgirls And keep him forever among the difficult buttons Of the bodice, among the rustling of their names, Miss Christina, Miss Lorraine. I could put his money in my pocket and wearing memory's black fedora With the condoms hidden in the hatband The damp cigar between my teeth, I could become the young man who always got sentimental About London especially in Las Vegas with its single bridge- So ridiculously tender--leaning across the river To watch the starlight's soft explosions. If I could trace the two veins that crossed His temple, I would know what drove him To this godforsaken place, I would keep him forever Remote from war--like the come-hither tip of his lit cigar Or the harvest moon, that gold planet, remote and pure American.
Lynn Emanuel - 1949-
Dream in Which I Meet Myself
Even the butter's a block of sleazy light. I see that first, as though I am a dreary guest come to a dreary supper. On her table, its scrubbed deal trim and lonely as a cot, is food for one, and everything we've ever hated: a plate of pallid grays and whites is succotash and chops are those dark shapes glaring up at us. Are you going to eat this? I want to ask; she's at the stove dishing up, wearing that apron black and stiff as burned bacon, reserved for maids and waitresses. The dream tells us: She is still a servant. Even here. So she has to clean our plate. It's horrible to watch. She pokes the bits of stuff into her mouth. The roll's glued shut like a little box with all that sticky butter. Is this all living gets you? The room, a gun stuck in your back? Don't move, It says. She's at the bureau lining up bobby pins. Worried and fed up I wander to the window with its strict bang of blind. My eyes fidget and scratch. And then I see myself: I am this dream's dog. I want out.