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arbitrary and appaling

by Gabriel Ricard


This man is not my grandfather.
That particular guy left his own particular building
a long time ago.

And the odds of running into him
are as good as the odds of running into a fortune
of homecoming gifts anytime soon.

Not my grandfather,
but he looks like the kind of thing
some of the people who have come through my life
come to resemble,
in dreams that are determined to leave me without fingernails.

This scene isn’t rich in storytelling texture.
No one’s going to make the mistake of assuming
that me and this old-timer are one and the heartbreaking same.

It’s true that I can’t remember how I got here
and that we’ve been finishing each other sentences
for the past half-hour. But give me a break, man.
Those things happen to me as often
as a $500 dollar millionaire proposes marriage
to girls and boys who talk like girls
between Saturday night and Monday morning.

Arbitrary and appalling can be shallow pretty easily.
The soulful, slow catastrophes happen
whenever they see fit to visit
one of my moment’s of unscheduled helplessness.

And I can’t predict when those happen,
and I am not saddened by how simple things are
a lot of the time.

That one night in Queens?
I had a lot to be happy about. Simple as that.

My idea of a stranger I wanted to meet
on the boardwalk around dawn?
She didn’t show up. I sobered down in a friend’s car.

The first time I was paid giddy fast cash to embarrass myself?
No one thought I would show. I remained pretty sure I would.

It’s just an old man stepping on his own teeth,
pouring gasoline on himself, snapping his fingers
after a slick two-step, and looking disappointed
that not a damn thing happened.

We probably just happen to see eye-to-eye
on the benefits and consequences of bad behavior.

He’s probably going to die in this goddamn room.
Probably not today though.

I’m probably going to leave in another half-hour.
Stuff like this somehow makes it possible for me
to forgive myself for the particulars from last night.

Rattling around like gentle cannonballs
and victimless crimes.

07/07/2013

Posted on 07/07/2013
Copyright © 2021 Gabriel Ricard

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 07/22/13 at 11:38 PM

What a great title. What a great poem. Arbitrary, maybe, but far from appaling.

Posted by Dan Linn on 07/26/13 at 09:49 AM

What we see in others can be a kind of time machine. Generations are predictions, and we have every right to be appalled at the arbitrary ravages of life.

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