Taxing Slices of Town with Clouds

He was on a mission stocked with viruses.
Patches of cement and then tar
rolled up like rugs for the dump
with alligator jaws ready to snatch
all that was good, and there was some good.

Parking lot seemingly dangerous at high speeds,
but he is aggressively feverish. His mission
bent his will to be suitable for other people,
and of course, there was a line,
not trying patience, but teasing with vulgarity,
freezing any notion that life might be smooth.

The man at the counter knows he,
the man at the counter, steals dreams.
He, the man at the counter, acts so kind
and so proper, so upper class, so slick
as he, the man at the counter,
pronounces the exact day of the month,
and with full hands, our man walks out,
naked into a crowded parking lot with sharks.
Not lawyers, not car sales freaks,
not radiation technicians, but people,
people who hate with a self-centered power,
with fierce tornadoes swimming around
their presence and biting rays of sun.

None of the traffic flows and why should it?
Our man is accepting of the ending he faces.
The dull, aching humans acting erratically,
not in lines, and a brutal coyote woman
on her cell phone, commanding the world.

And the delicate princess prancing from her
Mercedes in the dry cleaner drive-through,
she with the most perfectly lovely body,
prancing toward the door, in complete anger
because the man serving her needs has not brought
her hundreds of pieces of clothes out to her
vehicle quickly enough, and when he gets
there, she whips at his head showing him
how wrong he is in setting the clothes, all of which
are far uglier than those on the princess body,
as our man wonders how these ugly clothes might look
on her, perhaps with her special stance repairing them.

Remembering not to fight the people, our man
parks and walks for the post office
which should have terrible lines
but is uniquely empty.
He receives generous assistance, uncalled for,
and he sharply works to cut off a lady
in her Grand Am until he realizes
she is the kindest lady at work
who would never hurt, and he slinks down
in his seat and hides.

His mission seems complete, but he goes,
he goes back to hell with buttons and numbers,
and people asking him why he is so picky and
wondering why he seems to study every detail
of every part of this business that does not matter
to any others. He can’t find himself because he has
completed a mission that rips at his fabric, his soul,
his heart, his being, and the mission was supposed
to feel good by being complete by being true to the
world, but it has done nothing but dig a deeper hole,
one from which he has been fiercely clawing
in complete futility for years, despite all those years
of careful compliance with man’s laws.

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  1. #1 by carldagostino on April 19, 2011 - 6:00 am

    The last 3 lines are a precise statement about what you have written. The opening line captures what existentialism is in just a few words. You have really captured the dizzy senselessness of it all with descriptions and manipulation of words that set up the imagery. The absurdity in his mission. Your poem is very profound because it states the essence of the combined thinking of Dostoevsky, Kafka, and Gabriel Marcel in just a few stanzas. I think this is the best piece you have written from what I have read. Put this one aside in the “special” file. People that know about what I am saying will recognize this. This may be worth buying some stamps and envelops. I will send you a list of possibilities in a few days. It really struck a chord with me. I am thinking of alternative titles.

    • #2 by Carl on April 19, 2011 - 10:33 pm

      Your comment means the world, Carl. You are highly flattering, and it is rewarding that you were able to identify with it. The title is a bit convoluted, so a new title is warranted. I like elusive titles. The piece feels unrefined, but sometimes I like to be unrefined.

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