Can't swim; uses credit cards and pills to combat intolerable feelings of inadequacy; Won't admit his dread of boredom, chief impulse behind numerous marital infidelities; Looks fat in jeans, mouths clichés with confidence, breaks mother's plates in fights; Buys when the market is too high, and panics during the inevitable descent; Still, Pop can always tell the subtle difference between Pepsi and Coke, Has defined the darkness of red at dawn, memorized the splash of poppies along Deserted railway tracks, and opposed the war in Vietnam months before the students, Years before the politicians and press; give him a minute with a road map And he will solve the mystery of bloodshot eyes; transport him to mountaintop And watch him calculate the heaviness and height of the local heavens; Needs no prompting to give money to his kids; speaks French fluently, and tourist German; Sings Schubert in the shower; plays pinball in Paris; knows the new maid steals, and forgives her.
Poem in the Modernist Manner
They were cheap but they were real,
the old bistros. You could have a meal,
drink the devil’s own red wine, and contemplate
the sawdust on the floor, or fate,
as the full-fed beast kicked the empty pail.
The conspiracy of the second rate
continued to reverberate.
Everyone wanted to get his licks.
Everyone said it was a steal.
So the girl and I stayed out late.
We walked along the shore
and I campaigned some more.
And the city built with words not bricks
burned like a paper plate.