Ron Silliman

Trouble Ticket

                                                                                               From VOG

For Rod Smith

Bumper sticker on an old fridge door: Friends don't let friends drink milk. In dream, one can rework the past at one's leisure, as if constructing a puzzle composed of desire (I'm seducing Ms. Laura Bailey who hasn't aged one minute in the intervening 33 years). Television replays the crumpled Mercedes endlessly (at the Super Fresh, by the checkout line, the Enquirer still blares, page one "Di Goes Sex-Mad: I Can't Get Enough"). Mood swings like tides in an uncalm sea. Old plastic jack-o-lantern sits on a shelf. A plate of funnel cake consumed quickly in the shade of a small tree before the yellow jackets catch wind of its sweetness (brushing confectionary sugar out of my beard). Photo of Charles Bernstein as a boy. Waiter leans forward to pepper my soup. If you live long enough, you'll outlast everyone you ever loved. Sun barren in the sky. In the crook of the window, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of daddy-long-legs cling together (pulsing ball of yarn), hanging on the screen in the dark heat. Impossible to tell which is the "real" Batman anymore. Saturday's shin guards. I'm on the edge of waking as I dream one of my five-year-olds is paddling a small air mattress out into the open bay right into the path of some tugs, but everyone is staring into the sun glare to the right where a line of vintage seaplanes is set to start a race and I'm running to the pier's edge all to conscious of my own poor swimming as I see the mattress tip and start to role in some wake and I open my mouth to scream for help only to discover no sound. Yellow jacket season. Nerf football with a green and orange swirl. Hi, goofball. Disintermediation of the word (a word is worth a thousand words). Bean mechanics. Curtain that half hides the first class cabin. The fading light of day shimmering off the glass high rises, final night of summer. Joggers staggering at the end of their run. Supply chain management. Stumbling up against chairs in the dark. Dirt alert. Net present value. In the dream we're burying a young girl with the reddest hair, the most peaceful of smiles. Coast barely visible under thin rim of fog, heading south (the sun to my right), trip I should have made 33 years ago. Lone flight attendant on commuter jet. The Eastern Shore. I step from the hotel ballroom just in time to see two of its employees out beyond an empty bank of phones completing the unmistakable ritual of a drug deal. Barry Cox, sent to the crematorium in his tie-dye t-shirt. What then? Thinnest rim of land to segregate fresh water from salt. The sky colorless but not yet dark. Hammering on the spacebar to make it work. Till, past sunset though not yet full dark, all that remains of the Eastern horizon is the faintest shift in tones, grey upon gray. Tombstone at pond's edge, 32 years after the fact, Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, where my father rests. Young Clint cast-net shrimpin' from the end of the dock. Sulphur butterfly, pure yellow. An old photograph, unlabeled in an album crisp with age, Nagasaki after the bomb. Fishin' on credit. Another photo, eight years later, sailors in the streets of Rapallo. Grackle in the live oak. Doberman lifts his head, ears alert. In the distance, guns of the dove hunters poppin' in the drizzle. Another photo, older now, start of a paunch, hairline receding, chin starting to double, then another from the same year, wearing a baseball cap off in the distance (as if I'm looking into a mirror). Female cardinal mixed amid the redwings. Net fans out before it hits the water. Zit atop mosquito bite, small mound of aggravated flesh. They took them in trains, Buddy says, just to view the devastation. Yellow news clipping of a plane wreck in a wheat field: "My wings were icing up and I couldn't get to the Dalles." I sit up and a hundred grackle scatter off the deck. I'd not expected the moss to be this tough. She-clam soup. A simple stone set flat into the earth, wet with rain. The teenagers observe the adults with the cool distance of scientists. Buddy lifts his head into the rain, deep Tarzan yodel over Abbapoolah Creek. Lone female mallard asleep in the shadows of the deck. A troop of ringtail lemurs walking on TV with their tails erect. "Are you overwhelmed?" Jesse's simpler refrain: "Dad, when are you coming home?"


EPR #5:
On Brier Island

EPR #4:
Essay: The Desert Modernism


© 2003 Electronic Poetry Review