In the beginning, these were love letters—meant to woo your heart. Lately, too often they have become lamentations, though lamentations are a kind of love letter. Piazolla plays the background, progressive tango.
It’s Thursday morning. Yesterday, my brother learned he had broken his foot in two places. Will see someone Friday to see if he will need surgery. Monday, I have a blood test scheduled to see if I will need to take steroids for two years—the price for not dying young. The sun is breaking the tree line. The morning sky is my favorite color, a kind of pink purple grey. My coffee is fresh and hot. My neck is a little stiff. Poetry seems to be on hold, if not dying. The yearning of the tango—the longing for something hardly defined.
I watch the garbage truck collect my brother’s garbage. He had missed putting it out for a couple of weeks, and it had begun to smell. Yesterday, I hauled it to the curb. Somewhere there is a landfill collecting the refuse of civilization. We are filling the earth with scraps of paper, rotting food, cans, plastic, whatever. We recycle, but not enough. The earth is crying out, but we can not hear it.
Lamentations, when I meant to invite you to dance with me. Meant to whisper in your ear some secret code. I pose, arms outstretched, warrior modified. I breath in now into my lungs. No pain, Vonnegut tells me from the grave. Here I am cleaning shit off practically everything, he once wrote. Then, no pain. The two recurring themes of his writing, given to him by his two siblings. He emerges from a slaughterhouse locker into a city burnt to a crisp by allied bombers, thousands turn to ash, a bird tweets. His sits up at night drinking and calling an old war buddy, trying to make sense of it, trying to write his novel which will somehow—what?
Vonnegut has become ingrained in my DNA. It’s too late for Donne, I think. Still, part of me wishes to step out on the hardwood floor with you and move to the music of a cello or a bandoneon. This yearning to hang onto life, to love. This singing to the moon, even if the moon is a cliché worn thin. I sip my coffee which Scot has told me has become an idol for me, like the lust for the love of a woman—a place in Dante’s circles of hell. I’m okay with that, the poet smiles, though his poetry too has worn thin.
You’ve gotta quit writing about getting the girl to smile at you, Mark once told me when the demons had gotten the best of him, when the blues wouldn’t sing him to sleep. There’s a world to save, as if poetry could—when it can’t even woo a heart very well. Besides it looks ridiculous on an old man, he added. We drink wine in a bar and read our poems to a crowd of two. Two being the only people not immediate family, and they just happened to be there. How can we get more people to come to these things, Donna asked later in the evening. We can’t, the poet tells her. He sees it as a kind of sign.
I could have been an engineer, he says to the tree line.