Mr. Cantankerous

They say we’re evolving into robots,

or rather,

six-million-dollar men, adjusted for inflation,

or actually deflation,

since we’ll become cheaper to make,

and we’ll be everywhere, like plastic stuff

no one wants (not now, though later they will).

“People 2.0” we’ll be, they say,

though no self-respecting robot

would use that term. We don’t

go around calling ourselves

“the chimps” now, now do we?

So yes, we’ll be off flying ourselves

through space in ships oiled to light

beams, just ahead, I suppose,

of the bombs we’ve built

and the rising sea with all the

dead fish in it (it’s a vision

of hope, as I understand it, a new

chance to get it right).

Meanwhile, though, I’m stuck on this

future trash pile on Good Friday

2017, clinging to my cross,

a chimp and chump weak in the wind

of God 2.0

A detailed map of the road ahead

I have often thought Purgatory would not be some

hot fire of God, but, knowing me and what

would be excruciating for me, a

glimpse of every witless and witty,

witting and unwitting hurt I’d done –

all played back in the clarity of lovelight –

God at the back, wordless, with me left to

make of this story what I could –

the reputation-slicing jokes, the

cold overwhelming power to ignore –

even for years, even to this day –

boots on flowers, the girl crying

as she shuts the door, the friend who

knows I was never a friend –

and in answer to this nothing but

my own tears, the endless stream of them.


I almost welcome it. Why not

start now? Why not separate

the spirit from the salt and get the jump

on what so obviously must be done?


I thought of this yesterday, seeing a man

doing just that, though invertedly, being  on

on this side of the divide, and not

regretful but grateful.

He was engaged in a kind of

love summation, going back over the old ground,

reviewing blessings –

the man who’d said, you’ll need a trade,

the doctor who’d cured tuberculosis,

the girl who hadn’t turned him in.

He, too, was in tears,

but here at the splendor of it all,

knowing you couldn’t contain it,

couldn’t hold even one of those blessings –

not in your little cup,

not in your little hand.