by Jon Blackstock
Poverty, My Friend
It had been so long, my friend.
though your influence held my elbow all the while
like a friendly lover old ghost.
It had been so long, I started to miss you this time,
to miss your pangs of
when we sat in the cafes
with our French-fry meat and our ketchup vegetable --
our existential smugness and Marxist excuses
and analyzing away -- intellectualizing --
pushing hunger into the brains,
saying we wouldn't trade a poem,
a rant, an image for a cheeseburger basket.
It had been so long, almost a year
since I've stood out here in the wind wanting a
cigarette and a noodle or two.
But now you've stayed your three days,
and I love you, Brother Poverty,
but I'd trade you for fish
I can't wait to miss you.
I can't wait to see my son again,
to drive a car, window down,
to drink a dark beer down at the Pelican's Porch,
overlooking the beach and the Atlantic and the rest of the world.
I can't wait ‘til you've moved on.
While I've enjoyed our talks and walks,
and a visit from the only friend with whom I can play solitaire,
I can't wait to miss you and move on.
I know that if I were enlightened I wouldn't need these or other
and I would invite you to stay, at least one more day --
I might even say, "Come live with me and be..." You know.
While I wish to rival the hospitality
Telemachus showed his Mentor,
I wish you'd leave by your own accord,
and I promise to miss our time together
and to never believe all those who say
all those horrible things about you.
And one day, I stopped daydreaming and the sun was out.
What had been self and ideals and morals
ripped into sinewy waste
like steel-belted tire tread behind the car
ripping and jumping from the asphalt
like freed souls.
I pulled into the next lot and abandoned the car.
At an oily-sign truck stop,
up the road
I met a woman
(who would appear in my dreams later, not looking like
herself but like Angela Bassett)
who knew a lot about truck stops and truckers,
who knew a lot about her.
I was amazed to learn she had never been licked.
Apparently, it didn’t pay well.
I told her about the tire tread
frolicking in my rear-view
and how that led me to her.
“You’re stupid,” she said,
“for leaving your car.”
She smiled, sucking
coffee up a transparent straw,
sitting on the wooden stool,
flapping her legs like sugary butterfly wings.
“Well, what now?” she asked.
So I changed the damn tire and we drove back to a friend’s trailer in
middle of a corn field.
After the façade,
I meditated the vain attempt to satisfy such a gaping experience
by traditional means,
a beautiful failure that proves
the difference between Heaven and Hell is not one of geography
but of expectation.
We all go to the same place,
but the damned are still looking for it.
In my exhaustion,
before I drove her back to her calling,
the idea alarmed me that I may have been too dutiful
to have abandoned the car and start walking
or too enlightened
to have returned and changed the tire.
Ohm Mane Padme Ohm!
The morning and setting suns lick the void.
©2001 by Jon Blackstock
Jon Blackstock has published short stories and poems with Internet and print
manages the Teaching Theatre column at Suite101.com, and has published
book (The Down River Prophet) with Greatunpublished.com. He is a
of the College of Charleston (SC) and is currently enrolled in graduate
school at Georgia Southern. See more of his work at his Web site.