“If a man were called to fix the period in the history of
the world during which the condition of the human race was
most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation,
name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the
accession of Commodus.”
–Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. I
Sure, you could go back to ancient Rome,
but think of what you’d miss.
I’m not even talking about things like antibiotics
and the Geneva Convention.
Think of the little things.
The tiny intimacies that would be totally unknown
to someone born even a hundred years ago:
The cell phone’s light
glowing white through the nubbly pocket fabric
as you shimmy your jeans down over your thighs.
The orange sodium vapor lights on the freeway
hitting the exact same tone
as the sunrise beyond them.
Three cars, stopped at a light,
directionals blinking in perfect unison.
For Christ’s sake,
it’s George Clooney–not Vishnu.
Sit up straight, ask the question.
The worst he can do
is deck you
and that will be good for ratings,
not to mention
Every television host
should be hit at least once
hard, in the mouth,
lest he become a mealy-mouthed apologist
which brings me back to you, James Lipton:
Hunched like a tremulous owl,
you look half-afraid
of the people you’re interviewing.
This is no position for a journalist to take.
Grow a spine, take a stand,
and for the love of God,
to piss off Colin Farrell.
It can only help the network.
Hey, I was using that.
Maybe not perfectly,
not always gracefully,
but it was mine, and its usage
was none of your concern. You had no right–
but what am I saying,
I should be thanking God
that I am breathing
which is more than I can say for that poor fucker there,
in the hallway, covered in his rubber sheet–would someone give the guy a private room, at least, to be dead in?
I’ll give him mine, gladly;
not to be alone right now
with my bloody stump.
Say, tell me; what does it say on my chart? I keep asking them, but no one will let me read it. Does it say
I am a difficult patient?
No? Well, there’s a surprise. I would have thought the night nurse hated me, the way she looks.
Maybe that’s just her way
of keeping the bloody stumps at bay.
A thousand violations a day
and you retract into yourself like a snail.
Leaving a wretched ooze behind you upon the linoleum.
that I should be better adjusted to this already
than the doctors.
Who all talk to me about a “mourning period”
for my lost function–
careful language about “moving on” and “reimagining”.
I want to tell them,
I know mourning
and this isn’t it.
This is anger, pure as a fountain of blood
rocketing up my esophagus
to splatter everything around me.
I want to destroy nations. I want to eat men.
but it doesn’t matter what I want.
What I want is gone:
whatever’s left over,
that’s what I’ve got.
Like silverfish skittering from the light
like marbles dropped from a bag,
like fish exploding from the closed fist of the school.
You cannot hold us back forever.
There are not bags enough in the world for all our heads.
This wall will fall some day.
Maybe not in my lifetime, maybe not in yours.
But some day.
Some day we’ll use great chunks of it for throwing stones
Some day we’ll picnic with our children on it.
Some day we’ll sink sections of it to make a reef.
Fish will weave their colorful flags around the rebar
and brain coral will leach nutrients from the stone
you have so unwisely sown
down the middle of this city.
If you have to be a Bond girl,
you could do worse than to be Sévérine.
Your end will be quick,
and your last night will be spent
in a well-lit shower on a boat with Daniel Craig,
which is not too bad, as last nights go.
Of course, you’ll have to climb a ladder of evil men
to get to him.
Starting at twelve
in a house that tattoos you
you’ll be ridden like a ruminant
until you wind up the property
of a man so ghastly he requires
his own private Chernobyl
to vacation in.
But again I say: this is not so bad,
compared to the many ways that a Bond girl
You can be shot, of course,
drowned, crushed, poisoned,
suffocated in gold paint (or crude oil, if gold isn’t your color)
and there’s always the option of suicide
if you want to save him the trouble;
though I wouldn’t blame you if,
you wanted to stand up straight and glare.
The first of all Bond girls
to face her accuser
she stares out at us
as we ready the firing squad
(the rocks for the stoning, the knife for the scapegoat)
in the oldest of rituals.
Meet her gaze.