In school, as a child, I learned
to raise my hand, to be noticed,
to receive permission to speak,
whether asking or answering
Imagine TV political talk show commentators
raising their hands to be recognized
before lambasting a candidate.
Imagine Board of Trade commodities brokers
raising their hands to receive permission
before trading thirty-thousand pounds
of sweet corn.
Imagine happy hour crowded bar patrons
raising their hands so the bartender
gives them license to cheer
for their favorite sports team on TV
or go to the bathroom.
In fact, the only useful thing
raising my hand prepared me for
was hailing down a cab.
A man, a Kurd, turns his back
on the serpentine line of ducks,
on the one flower held
by a lover waiting alone
near the bandshell,
on the young girl, a cellist,
while bowing amid the swarming
flies and mosquitoes.
The man's bare feet leave words and letters
in each footprint that wetly swells
in the soft ground-a story that matters
to someone, somewhere, but not here
where the fog drifts up out of the lake
as the red sun sets beyond the trees.
Remember that. The fog. The layers
of mist settle on the grass,
cling to tree branches. Listen. The fog contains
the whimper of his mother's last breath
as it settles next to the dead dog. Hear the slump
of his wife and children to the dining table,
the soft drop of black flies to the cloth,
the cold curl of a mouse in the corner.
The man walks away from the park,
from the baseball game at the lighted field,
the picnickers packing their bright blankets,
the last paddle boats on the lake,
and teens lost in the dance soaked haze
of their blaring ipod solitude-
all of them lively, unreading:
how quick it all went.
He steps onto the solid concrete sidewalk,
as a flight of geese vee toward the lake,
the traffic light changes from red to green,
a woman, in a parked car,
checks her face in the rearview mirror
then walks with purpose toward the bandstand.
About the author:
Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM. His work appears mostly on the web as he spends SASE postage money on flowers for his lover. In the past he has edited and/or produced: Hodge Podge Poetry, Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry and Origami Condom.
© 2011 Word Riot