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by Gabriel Ricard

There’s too many people in this apartment. Too much smoke
coming in from the backyard to be able to do anything
but crash
into strangers and hope they don’t
strike you down
for not knowing their names.

You sit on a stool in the kitchen
and shift your huge legs to avoid bumping into
those conversational shadows as they pass by via the walls,
the floor and along the ceiling.

The overhead fan has so much to work against
that it may as well be trying to cool Los Angeles
after the 2012 lake of fire gets through with it.

People are talking to you, but they’re also talking
to everyone else and making loud private notes to themselves.
It’s a hundred thousand flights of bipolar stairs
just to keep up with the smiling
and insightful laughter. To say nothing of contributing
your own material and sticking by it through thick and thinning hair.

You know four people, then two and then three becomes seven.
Seven eventually drops back down to one when it’s ten o’clock.
You make it through the front door to a part of town
where it’s so quiet that your first instinct is to get angry.

It’s okay.
Remain perfectly calm.
Remember that there are parts of the world
where it’s still possible to watch the stars pretend to move
like a New York chorus line in the middle of The Depression.

There’s places out here
where it’s possible to hear your footsteps
or a prize fight two houses and three lifetimes down.

You can even make a phone call. It’s not unreasonable
to take thirty minutes off for good behavior,
call up someone you love who couldn’t make it to the party
and then head back inside to celebrate the pandemonium.

There’s always one person who can grab your attention
better by looking out the window than a thousand people
people who want to talk about your favorite movie.

But the contradiction remains intact.

These quiet places in the world are wonderful,
but you’re going to miss the madness when the foolish have children,
and the children want absolutely nothing to do with you.

It’s good to have someone with a flashlight in the glove box,
and whose hands were made to be pressed against your face.






09/09/2009

Posted on 09/09/2009
Copyright © 2022 Gabriel Ricard

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Jared Fladeland on 09/09/09 at 07:06 PM

I'm not sure if I should suggest going to north Dakota, or never visiting ever. I love the line about needing to get angry cause it's quiet.

Posted by Sandy M. Humphrey on 09/09/09 at 07:34 PM

Masterful, and the contradiction does remain intact. smh

Posted by Paul Lastovica on 09/09/09 at 11:34 PM

love the contradiction between the first and last half of this. It is exactly like stepping out from a crowded home into a middle-of-nowhere silence; from panic, to peace.

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 09/10/09 at 02:53 AM

Stanza 4 rocks! "Remember that there are parts of the world where it’s still possible to watch the stars pretend to move" - last night we went outside to watch the space station orbitting overhead, led by its shuttle companion that had separated from it earlier in the day. A perfectly quiet, incredible moment. Nevertheless, I love your last two lines.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 09/10/09 at 06:50 PM

Down to earth stuff Gabriel. I especially like the ring of this stanza: You can even make a phone call. It’s not unreasonable to take thirty minutes off for good behavior, call up someone you love who couldn’t make it to the party and then head back inside to celebrate the pandemonium. Not that you were gone long, but welcome back just the same.

Posted by Christina Bruno on 09/14/09 at 02:31 AM

this is an excellent piece, the last stanza really finishes it! i also like the 30 mins stanza, as well!

Posted by Sarah Wolf on 09/20/09 at 12:45 PM

Ricard what I have always loved most about your writing is your ability to add detail. Loved the line "People are talking to you, but they’re also talking to everyone else and making loud private notes to themselves."... Also loved Stanza 5... You always make the most everyday situations into an adventure. Everything in your everyday life always appears that way... and it is why I never tire of reading you. I always like your writing... but I must say I liked this piece better than most... well done...

Posted by Johnny Crimson on 04/13/10 at 12:48 PM

This is awesome, and the strangest thing...Don't do me like that is coming out my speakers right now... ha!

Posted by Meghan Helmich on 08/29/11 at 12:28 PM

"There’s always one person who can grab your attention better by looking out the window than a thousand people people who want to talk about your favorite movie." I can really relate to this stanza. Reading your work is such a pleasure, Gabe.

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