Two Prose Poems: World on a String
I used to think I had the world on a string, until I realized the world had me on a leash. It's a simple reversal, of course, the way you sometimes think you're being paid until you realize you're going to pay for it. This one morning the sun was like a pedestrian--it moved across the city in a meandering way, throwing a shadow here, a shadow there, sometimes slipping around the corner like it was dodging some darkness. I, on the other hand, had no such lack of purpose, making a drop-off that I thought would set me up for three lifetimes. And when the time came to exchange the goods, this pigeon fixed me with a look that stopped time--a set-up, fuck foolish me, it's got to be coming from behind. And then suddenly, a slant of sunlight so bright that it must have been trying to escape from late afternoon, threw its relief across the sun-stabber's face. A smile, and that was that. A simple reversal, place and show, and I was on my way to easy street--which we all know is far uptown. Hell, pal, that was years ago, and I don't even know why I'm telling you this now, other than to illustrate a simple point, which I can clearly see by the expression on your face, is becoming clearer by the moment.
I had this theory about self-rising dough. You take five twenties, put them in a paper bag. You shake it, leave it on the table--yes, right there next to the coffee cup and pack of smokes. Take a walk, maybe the park, since you're in the mood for the green, come back, and lo and behold, your life is set--it's in the bag.
Two Prose Poems: Self-Rising Dough
But lo and behold, as most of us know, is almost always low and beholden. The bag you shook is just you shaken, and the walk to the park leaves you bitter, brown and more than slightly wilted. So, you must conclude that my theory is a myth, some tall story that always wakes up shrunken. The strapping young man with gold in his eyes wakes up a senile midget.
Now, I see you're starting to laugh. Let me, then, give you theory number two: the court of last resort of any nickel and dimer is to make himself more than slightly ridiculous. I've got holes in my pockets, and gums like the White Cliffs of Dover, but if you turn around and open that cupboard, yes, the one with the scratch marks near the handle, you'll find, my friend, a bag of dough, the biggest one they happen to sell, sitting in there perfectly like a bag of snow, that strangely never thaws or freezes.
David Lazar is the Associate Professor at Ohio University and the Senior Editor of
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