Monday, November 19, 2012

The Telestial Kingdom

The nights are without intention or event
and as a result are like most nights,
and as long as nights generally are.
Sometimes the moon is big.
Sometimes it is nowhere to be seen.

You have lived a long time and still
do not understand how the moon works.
There are golf balls up there, unless you
are mistaken, and a flag that once meant
you had to stagger to your feet every
morning and mumble some nonsense,
which now seems like something
from a movie where everything is
about to go very, very wrong.

You can no longer read your own handwriting,
so how are you supposed to make sense
of the strange fragmented notes you
keep finding hidden among cans of soup?

Eventually it is inevitable that your cell phone
will fall in the toilet. Or, if necessary,
you will toss it in there yourself
and feel liberated for maybe ten minutes
before you become certain that
now you are going to miss the one
call you've been waiting for your entire life.

You are one who has been waiting
for that one call your entire life.
Everything you ever tried was invested
with hope, and that hope can be
generally summarized by an expectation
that you would receive the one call
you've been waiting for your entire life.

And now your phone is in the toilet.
Sometimes you suspect that you spent
your whole life praying to the wrong god.
Or that your prayers were all wrong.
Or that there is no God.

If you're lucky you won't spend too much
time on such nonsense and you'll fall asleep
and dream that you are riding a bus
though the slums of heaven, and the slums
of heaven, it turns out, are populated
by the souls of cartoon dogs who have been
stripped of their clothing, forced to walk
on all fours, and eat luggage, lingerie, jewelry,
and all the other things people try to bring
with them to heaven but no longer need.

From the slum bus in heaven you watch
a naked Huckleberry Hound eat a camera
and a wedding ring and a copy of The Thorn Birds.
Your camera and your wedding ring,
you suspect. Somebody else's copy of
The Thorn Birds, you're pretty sure.

And when an old man in the back
of the bus shouts out, "How is this
heaven?" the bus driver tells him to
shut up or he'll have to get out and walk.
"Walk where?" the old man asks,
and the driver slams on the brakes
and two gaunt attendants wrestle
the old man down the steps of the bus.
You wouldn't think someone could look
so forlorn in heaven, but you'd be wrong.
You wouldn't think angels would be gaunt,
or forced to work as bus attendants,
but once again you'd be wrong.

"For this I was a good man?"
the evicted passenger cries,
and the bus driver nods his head.
"For this you were a good man," he says,
and eases the bus down the desolate street.
Everyone else on board, of course, has made
the trip alone, and no one says a word
in defense of either the old man or the
pitiful dogs.You all just sit there, grim-faced
but still expectant that there must surely be
better neighborhoods in heaven, and that
you are eventually going to end up exactly
where you belong, in a place where
all those you ever loved and lost
will be waiting for you and calling out
your name, which you've already forgotten.

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