[b]Neither Here Nor There[/b]

Otis, in all his mercy, on some lost tablet,
etched for granite minds his stony commandments:
Elevator decorum demands agreement,
look forward, keep space within a space,
appendages shall never rise in gesture,
nor brush the flanks of erected riders,
and weathered souls?–the topic weather!
the irony of the getting off before got on.

And, so too, in a dusty corner of Metro’s chamber,
locked in a file without a key,
the rules of disengagement have a proper seal,
codified and passed by council,
(forgotten but by one forgotten civil servant)
for rider’s (with riders), the commuting clan.
Have proper change, expression changeless,
avert the gaze, less it acknowledge
the trip has no sure destination,
and always be an unspectacular specter
traveling in a tram stuffed with empty ghosts.

Oh, we’ve seen them before, while awaiting the call
at the dentist office, leafing National Geographic
of an unpeopled place, those imposing, inscrutable faces,
the blank eyed and stony forms, gray seaward facing,
expressionless, looking like wayward bicuspids
incisively needing bridgework to bring there to here:
those distant looks embracing distance
in the silence of an ethereal, blank stare.

But who among us does not wait
For one to twist upon his base and
falling to the ground with a heavy thud,
blink awake the heavy lids upon its face,
unsmack his frozen, muted lips,
unstick the ears and take in sea-sound,
and roll downhill upon the ground,
laughing and squealing with delightful spree,
plunge splashing into the unknown ocean.

[b]Insurance Man[/b]

He sat in our living room,
papers cluttered across the coffee table,
the computer print-outs of future fortune,
financial security, and an implied spiritual bliss.
The self-assured manner of one who knows:
Whole life, term, annuities–it was all there.
To hide chain-smoking cigarette breath,
he sucked Hall’s mentho-lyptus,
rolled each drop cheek to cheek, while tallying figures,
puzzling over “the possible.”
Puffing through his declamations,
he rolled side to side, cheek to cheek,
upon the straining springs of our worn sofa.
It was then, as I remember;
after nodding toward “the wife,”
his face grew flushed,
a cold sweat broke about his brow,
and he clutched his pounding chest.
Falling face forward upon our financial future,
his head smacked our prospectus hard-table center,
like a piece of the rock,
and he died,
no doubt,
with a tidy little portfolio of his own.

[b]Horizon Highway[/b]

When we were young
we rumbled down the freeway,
top down, cutting a rush breeze,
radio blasting over steamy asphalt.
Sidelong, I watched you,
a hair blown Medusa
in mirrored sunglasses,
burning the horizon.

Time’s collisions and
weathering circumstance
have faded the paint,
worn the upholstery,
and, now, the rag top seldom down.

On occasion we laugh recalling
the days when we chased a hot pink sky,
and did not notice
the fleeting images
receding in the rear-view mirror.

[b]The Highland Theater Lobby at the AIDS Fund-raiser[/b]

See her, over there,
it’s Solo Sandy,
The girl with a one-eyed Siamese cat
(Half-Mongolian, I’ve been told),
smoking a cig during intermission
at a “Surprisingly Sassy” show.
Standing in the theater lobby,
black hair and gown, dark eyes,
Mediterranean complexion, she
looks alone like a kidnapped Helen,
amidst soft and feathered barbarians
each extravagantly trying to outdo
the simple, classic elegance
of this quiet beauty, this
stranger in a strange land.
She, unaware of the corpse-littered battlefield,
never notices the vanquished,
the slain victims of her bloodless victory,
nor the suitor preparing the ship.

by Michael Carano
([email]michael_carano [at] hotmail [dot] com[/email])

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