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dumbstruck empire

by Gabriel Ricard

I will settle down,
grow better arms to climb around
this bad weather
that treats the stop signs
like missing children
and teaches those crows
outside my favorite restaurant a scary kind of patience.

Between
my three email accounts
something around two hundred junk mail
messages are sent my way.

I’ll read them all and get some answers. Some time will be set aside.
I’ll use the money I owe
to the most polite mob boss in the world
and get on the road to visit the edge
of this town that’s mostly parking lot. It starts in Miami
and has been pushing its way towards San Francisco for years.

Someone told me the other day
over shaky morning traffic report cocktails
and concern for the world that was almost inhuman
that it’s gotten to a point
where you can walk,
just walk,
slow as you please
across the first two miles of the Pacific Ocean.

You can even
stop off at the halfway point
for some Snicker’s Pie, a pair of bowling shoes
or a really cheap, tasteful wedding.

If I’m lucky I’ll get there in time
to see whatever it is
I’m meant to stare at, reach out towards,
try to see if it can run through my fingers
and still be there for the taking.

There has to be something that’s either
at the end or in the middle. It could be one of those
rest areas where everything’s quiet, and you find yourself
swearing the whole time that there’s cameras rolling somewhere.

It could be
a view of some city that can be best seen
by taking one of those bridges that goes
for a loop and demands your complete
faith in the idea that God will keep you from serious harm.

I’ve got an open mind. It took years to develop.
A lot of sacrifices were made in my twenties.
A lot of problems are still there for the act of ritual.
I’m still angry. I get too quiet when someone I love starts to cry.
I’ll always disappoint people. I have bad habits and too many heroes
who died making sure they got the last word.

I’ve got an open mind. It took years to develop
and leads me to think there might be
hope for me by the middle of the current century.

There’s a good chance I’m going to live too long,
but that might work out
to my wheezing advantage.

I’ll try to find solace in the miracle
of a good song at a familiar red light
or her sharp fingernails
touching my arm and then each other
at every single toll booth.

I’ll learn to enjoy all the free time
and settle down long before I lose everything.


01/26/2010

Posted on 01/26/2010
Copyright © 2016 Gabriel Ricard

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Therese Elaine on 01/26/10 at 12:21 PM

I think an interesting by-product of the modern age is that we speed through milestones that much faster, that by 30, there are relatively few, to our way of thinking, that we've not met. Add to that the cadence of a Tom Waits song and the feel of Motorcycle Boy in Rumblefish and that's what this makes me think of...which of course means I love it.

Posted by George Hoerner on 01/26/10 at 12:39 PM

Good write my friend but don't talk about this walking on the water thing too much. The neighbors are already talking about how I walked my dogs the other day and never got a drop on either of us and never left footprints on the front walk.

Posted by Nanette Bellman on 01/26/10 at 01:58 PM

I'll admit, it's been a while since I've your work and this was a great piece to come back too. I've known you to write these over the top stories that Dr. Suess strong out on some drug couldn't even touch. This isn't as slap-stick as I'm used to reading from you. It seems gentle and it's nice to see that side from you and that you can pull it off so well.

Posted by Sandy M. Humphrey on 01/26/10 at 06:11 PM

"I've got an open mind" and it is with that I dive into your poetry and swim in the shallow ocean alongside the poet walking, amazing as always. smh

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 01/26/10 at 08:53 PM

Great first stanza. I also like the slower pace to this one.

Posted by Ken Harnisch on 01/26/10 at 10:02 PM

yes, there's something slower to this, less frenetically energized than most of your poems, Gabriel...And I find it fascinating for being so mellow

Posted by Maria Kintner on 02/08/10 at 06:19 AM

"I have bad habits and too many heroes who died making sure they got the last word." Aint that the truth? Awesome write.

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