I’m a talker. I come from a family of talkers. I do get on some people’s nerves because of it. I try to avoid those people. But then they seem to be annoyed when I avoid them. Fuck it, he mutters.
Just read an article about small talk and how the world would be better without it, about a guy standing in line who just wishes the woman behind him would not try to talk to him, about how meaningless her talk is. Most of the commentary following the article seemed to agree with him. I wonder if the author realizes that by writing his commentary he is, in a sense, the woman behind the man—as are the people making comments about people who try to make small talk. Maybe we should all talk calculus, the poet says. Derivatives.
In the meantime while having this wonderful chocolate cake for dessert, the would be rulers of the world talk about how difficult it is to get rocket man to curb his nuclear ambitions. Hardly small talk, that wonderful chocolate cake. But put into a certain context, the length of the line in the article, the chocolate cake, the possibility of a nuclear war, is just small talk—only dust.
I once sat next to a man in a bus station in Austin, Texas who told me about his fighting in the first world war, for Germany. How he came to America after the war and never looked back, though his grandmother urged him to returned in the 30s after Hitler came to power. Hitler is the new hope, she wrote to me, the man said, looking at the wall in front of him. And when I refused to come back, she called me a traitor. When she died, I went to Germany and spit on her grave. The old man never looked at me. I was sitting in a bus station waiting to catch the bus home so I could see my girlfriend. They were all dead, don't you see, the old man told me. All my childhood friends were dead.
I once sat on a stationary bicycle next to a girl in the gym, a new freshman at the college. She told me she had placed out of her entire core while in high school, and now she would only be talking courses in her major, music. She was pretty and friendly, and I tried to memorize her face as she talked, so I would recognize her if I saw her in the gym again. But by that time, I was in my sixties and most eighteen year old women looked the same to me. If I ever saw her again, I didn’t recognize her. But I still remember her voice as she talked to me. It filled the workout with a kind glowing energy. I also remember her name for some reason.
A man in the parking lot of HEB comes up to me and asks for gas money—a common ruse. I give him ten dollars of my precious money. God bless, the man tells me.
I walk into a wine bar with five copies of my poetry book. So you think you’re going to sell books here, Mark says to me. No, I tell him. We were reading poems that night to a large crowd of five or six people. But, I carry them with me just the same. Gave one away that night.
While I was eating a piece of chocolate cake, the whole world came to an end. Everything was turned into a crayon drawing with a yellow sun and a blue sky and a swing set. The cake suddenly tasted like a chocolate crayon.