Room 62 • Poetry Hotel
Eleven Poems / George Guida
I celebrate your mother and sing your mother,
and what I assume your mother shall assume.
And though I could not stop for your mother
she kindly stopped for me. Your mother, after all,
is not so old I could omit her, because
there is no country for old mothers.
In fact I saw your mother the other day,
starving, hysterical, naked,
her eyes nothing like the sun.
I will not call her mistress
though she may be so. Sweet,
sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet mother,
next to God, America, I and
everyone stopped breathing when
your mother whispered along the keyboard
to Peter Quince, who placed her in Tennessee,
where ignorant armies clash by moonshine,
who turned to me and said, Ah, Love,
let us be true to your mother too.
And it’s true, I too dislike your mother,
but in her I find a place for the genuine
fear that she may cease to be,
not waving but drowning, washing up
on some farther shore, that I may stumble over her,
exclaim, I fall upon your mother! I bleed!
I fear your mother has not
a stately pleasure dome decreed,
for Old McDonald had a farm,
and on this farm he had your mother.
So let us go then, you and I,
when evening is spread out against your mother
with sawdust in her hair, as
she wanders lonely as a cloud.
Had I but world enough and time
to make your mother run or walk in beauty
or sag like a heavy load or just explode,
I would take her to a cottage under the sea
and say, Nevermore will I go
gentle into that good mother.
Then a wine-dark muse will inspire
a tiger or little lamb or glow worm
to ask, My son, hast though slain the Jabbermother?
But what happens to a mother deferred?
Does she jazz June? Does she stop
by the woods on a rainy evening?
Good mothers do make good neighbors.
Does she understand how much depends
upon a high-heeled mother
glazed with bath water
beside the white poodle.
I hung on like death to your mother
for dulce et decorum est pro matria mori,
but when I consider how your mother is spent,
I know I have wasted her life.
So I am leaving a Coney Island of your mother,
aware she hands on misery to man
and deepens like a boastful self. And now
I see the apparition of these faces in your mother
and say, Oh, mother, your mother,
this baby is through.
WHAT SEEMS STILL WHIRLS
Fifteen, aboard a flight to Spain,
“Twilight Zone: The Movie,”
fresh in my mind, its demons
not yet on the wing, not yet.
Still, any view is portal to fear.
Fifty-one on a parlor couch,
finished with "The Blackboard Jungle"
Vic Morrow as a high school hood,
I ponder the terrors of turbulence
in swirling winds, the turbulence
of teenage love abroad or else
at home, the kind of love that West,
Morrow’s delinquent never knows.
Take your hat off in class, Mr. Dadier
(Daddy-O), his teacher commands,
West’s hair a whorl of chaos.
But West gets his revenge
in an alleyway combat of fisticuffs.
Coincidence that "Combat," TV drama,
will be Morrow's transport
into every living room.
The good morrow of triumph,
the day in the sun. A stage name
Morrow, for a tough Jewish kid,
a genuine Stanley Kowalski,
Morrow, a grown Jew now
taking t. v. Nazis down.
My first flight to Europe,
my seat aboard the boomerang.
Turbulence. No comfort in props,
the literalist's sign of flight,
only my classmates familiar,
my blackboard comrades
on a trip to anonymity.
Morrow knew Elvis and Curtiz,
director of "Casablanca."
The fascists lost the fight
and only a Clash song spun them
back to now. Morrow was born
a villain like us all. Born to live,
to strut, to suffer, to die, to live
again in children, actors acting
in our place. Morrow's
daughter suffered too the wounds
that open every day.
How could I know how many times
I’d cross the pond on missions
secret to me as everyone else?
Different mines each time:
Friends, lovers, parents blown
to smithereens on an alpine ridge,
in a peasant village near the border
that shifts in historic spirals,
rotation of ages and faces
and feelings come back to steal
the consciousness of moments.
Each time a hill to take and then
another, machine guns spinning
bullets, specific relations,
specific body parts, specific wars.
A landscape just like Vietnam.
The director showed Morrow in stills
how Indian Dunes could easily stand in.
It had so many times. The site
of motorbikes grooving circles in sand,
dunes shifting with the nearby tides,
and Magic Mountain Amusement Park,
the kid’s vacation giving way
to overseas flights and nights
on Spanish beaches, stirring sangria
that back home would have made us Wests,
the post-War city toughs, the gangs
that ruled the roost, the dynamos
of matching jackets and switchblades
flashing through the air, the ballet
scored by Bernstein, circling back
a decade later to radical chic,
a generation of sons at war,
different fathers from the G. I. Bill
Daddy-Os, unlike my own
who threaded needles between
the law and war, becoming cops
and firemen, accountants and clerks,
spinning us out to suburbs, spinning
off families whose mission it was
to learn what our parents refused to know,
what seems still (from a distance) whirls.
I was a straight-A first-date student—
the first like the hundredth—
to see that “Twilight Zone,”
with Morrow cast as a cynic
a-whirl through time, the Zone
with its animated whorl
to a fifth dimension
beyond sight and sound,
science and superstition,
the opposite of amnesia,
where Serling could have plucked him
from an eddy of wading actors,
but instead, a generation out,
the movie took him for good.
The heat of fake explosions,
the delaminated rotors
cutting the orb of a life
from this earth, and with it
children he meant to redeem.
I am here to watch the credits roll,
Daddy-O myself, confused about
this scene, my shoulders slumped,
no longer moving freely through the set
the world becomes, the stir of faces
and ages gone, the whirl of the done,
so that, in Morrow’s final words,
I’ve got to be crazy to do this shot.
I should’ve asked for a double.
"THESE DOGS HATE EACH OTHER"
They are pictured on a single chair,
haunches up, recoiled, each near snarl,
the caption writer quick witted, a friend
of my wife’s I’ve met just once
though we share this bond of dogs
who hate to share the couch
where I station myself, confessing
to people I hardly know. The dogs
crave the comfort not to be
always on guard, better off perhaps
in separate houses. Neither would think
Perhaps be damned! That’s our command
while they prefer urge. The Maltese
is ready to bite the dachshund’s ear.
And by now you might think, I see
where this is going. Well, actually, no.
We’re contenting ourselves with life
as lesser Prousts of cranky pets.
I pass judgment neither on the spotted one
closer than her nemesis to the edge,
nor on her aspirations: fawning owner,
place of privilege in the bed,
ample yard and access door.
I doubt my friend provides all these
for if a dog is man’s best friend
it’s only because they have in common
the will to power poorly expressed.
When Yuriy parts my hair
he chuckles at a demon in his ear.
Boris, at the other chair,
speaks to him in Russian
until he answers with a frown.
They are saying these Americans
are fools to come to us
who learned to barber hair
between attacks in Chechnya.
Or they speak in their language
of the music that blares
from in back of a giant screen
where gangsters play in loops.
Boris says that Journey’s singer
intones with the power
of Putin’s Budyonnies.
Yuriy remarks that he wails
like an abandoned waif.
Everything around the shop
is just what you'd expect: the jars
of Mane 'n Tail, the aristocrat
of Clubman talc on shelves
above the fade and trim
electric clippers dangling
from the hooks by tight arrays
of silver shears the giant mirror
casts as a bazar of ego stokes
only these two can wield.
Yuriy says no, my hair should never be
so long. "Has it been six months?"
Boris shrugs and juts his lip,
the same as when his wife is asking
what he'll do about their son,
who is ashamed of them
and won't wake up on time
for school, and lies he doesn't smoke
when of course they know
his tee shirts reek like workers' bars
in Niszhny Novgorod.
His is also the lip to ponder
how gray the hair is falling
on my lap and how if I mentioned
my latest scan, he might well say
“You know, we all have to go sometime,”
and how at another immigrant shop
I watched my father's fall
to the floor like all dead things
in chairs of foreigners whose tongue
he wished he could understand.
For a time I believed I'd learn
to speak Russian, to read the greats
because the soul resides
in a crone's crooked smile
and a clerk's raving lines.
But now I'm thankful Yuri's learned
the English of his trade.
He waves a straight-edge, searching
for the word to conceal my gray
and yells "Dye!" as failures he knows
I don’t have the courage to regret
mock me with the curse of those
whose hair grows in the grave.
When he asks what color I want
I mean to answer brown,
but thinking it's too late
tell him to leave it alone.
Boris runs well-worn fingers
through his midnight mop
as if tonics could preserve the flesh
the way the tundra does.
I want to remind them how
winter chills us with wasted chance,
blizzards teach us to spend ourselves,
and icicles linger like stubborn hair
no one but nature is able to cut.
And the band born near the Russian River
plays another song insisting
we must always believe
we once belonged someplace.
“Yuriy, we are lost,” I almost say,
but catch him staring in the mirror
where a stallion in a meadow
brays at lullabies and strokes
of a dead babushka’s warming hand.
THE MORNING MY SON'S FATHER CALLS IT QUITS
The economy is booming and his new double-wide
looks like it just rolled off the dealer’s lot
and onto the one we visited not three months back,
all sand and scrub on a Southland summer day.
My son is sitting in first-period English, a class
he says he doesn’t like, though he loves the language
the way I do, a struggle without end,
like my son’s birth father’s row with life,
America, the chance to buy a house,
the chance to go to jail and lose the right
to vote, the right to raise his children
with an empty bank account, the right
to bear arms and bare his soul
on line, the right to regret the classes failed
and felony arrests and uncle who got him
the laborer’s job on parole
and the woman he met at a bar
where they play country songs and sing
to hell with the government, to hell with the kids
who came along with her from other men
who weren’t the dads you see on TV
And maybe seeing his kids and his woman
and her men and himself on screens all day
was just too much for a hot summer night
with the meds running low and no one
traveling the dirt roads but dogs.
That kind of scene would speak to any man,
even one whose other son he rescued
from his mother’s boyfriend’s fists,
the mother, his ex, waiting tables and out
doing God-knows-who the rest of the time
when the boy was still in diapers. What kind
of man would leave the boy there? What kind
would lose him again to pain and pills?
When you’re a man like that you don’t need to answer.
You’re thankful to recover, no matter how long,
no matter how many nights it takes of staring
at paycheck numbers to make them grow,
of watching the littlest girl drag her dirty doll
across the kitchen floor, no matter how many beers
with Uncle Timmy telling him the way
a man should be. Forget his life and children
who stopped talking to him years ago.
He’s the closest my son’s natural father has
to a sage. Forget that he’s more likely
to show his scars than to lift a man up
with a story of persistence paying off.
He’s more likely to drive a man around
in his pick-up through the darkness
leading out to cow pens and long tokes
and a tale about some no-good gal
twenty years too young, and ten
grand too expensive to marry.
No matter, though, because my son’s
natural father found himself
a decent woman who raises the boy
as her own, who works a steady job
at the parts supply, who believes him
when he tells her where he’s been.
And on this morning she’s on his mind,
and his boy, and the son he met this year,
and all of them so full of life and yet
so much to take in, take on, and the dark
coming back for the dawn, and the length
of rope he cut and tied and slung
on a branch just yesterday, waiting
for him in the woods behind the house,
waiting until his woman goes to work
and the children go to school
where they don’t pray any more
so he prays for them while he puts on
his best shirt and walks to the spot
and raises a bottle’s bottom to the sun
and raises himself on high, while my son
picks up his pencil and lets everything go.
INDISTINCT ANIMAL IN BONNET AND CAPE
Your bug-eyed pug at his most vexed
resembles Dalí or his figurines
But wait, you’re wrong. He’s just an angry dog
and next to him sits a fanged rabbit
about to impale your toe through a sock,
as you slumber into embryo
unsafe in a cracked vessel filled
with haggard men who can’t quite follow
the tune that Crecquillon set down as (somehow)
“All the Nights I Go to Bed Without You”
Everyone there both sleeps and wakes,
though you’re at least aware
the owl has perched on a nun
and the llama(?) is playing a lute.
Your sudden unconscious interest in art
has dozed you into the crucible
of Bosch’s “Concert in the Egg,”
which he likely didn’t paint until
someone granted him the kind
of posthumous credit you’ll never enjoy
since you fled the garden of earthly delights
you called a child-bed marriage
to a smart, attractive, if not disrobed
spouse who lent you life and voice.
In your flight it’s also worth noting
the dead chicken in the hanging basket,
blackbirds perched and the owl (redundant),
vase tied to bare tree, monkey’s flute,
monk’s harp, arm reaching for grilled fish,
dangling snake, turtle and fox, fire,
and wee demons devouring
souls at lower right.
It’s only Wednesday and you didn’t plan
to see this masterwork, much less have it
creep into your life, yet it found you
through a labyrinth of synapses
for a certain artist demands the regard
of anyone who’s ever trod a scene,
reminding the figure he hasn’t achieved
the thing for which he wishes to be known,
as a belligerent animal in bonnet and cape
suggests that human passengers find
little comfort in scripted song.
FOUND POEM: A LEADER SPEAKS OF WOMEN
I have tremendous respect for women
and the many roles they serve.
You know, it doesn’t really matter
what they write as long as you’ve got
a young and beautiful piece of ass.
She’s unattractive, both inside and out.
I fully understand why her husband left her
for a man. I’ve got to use some Tic-Tacs,
just in case I start kissing her. She could
only be described as attractive
if you like a woman with a bad complexion
who is built like a linebacker.
My Administration is committed to creating
conditions that empower women
to achieve even more. Grab them
by the pussy. You have to treat ‘em
like shit. Women represent half
of the population, but they care
about 100 percent of the issues
that face the nation. More women
in the workforce today than ever before.
That’s really terrific. Putting a wife to work
is a very dangerous thing.
B. A. BARACUS
Palm Sunday as prelude to pietà.
A lector reads the Gospel of Barrabas
while I fold my cross and think B. A.
Barrabas, flubbing a namesake scholars say
may have been Jesus himself, the son
of the father, like Mr. T’s, absconded.
Mohawk, a kinky antenna to channel
four centuries’ whips. B. A. for Bad
Attitude, which he had, and ratings
and a movie role to bloody White Hope
who spoke Italian Philly, language
only half as old as a new world self.
Baldness bespoke Clean as much as T
if you were inclined to shine the token,
if you bought the hype. For a while he was
the hype, as they used to say. Baracus
had no pity, had no mercy for the fool
who, casting, set him only half-way free.
They called him John Henry, Stepin’ Fetchit,
a thick-necked Tom on his own golden leash
but the country preferred his muscled grunt
to blood-witted, hatchet-tongued black men
sentenced to spray misshaped topiary
with history’s holy water cannon.
Self-baptized Mandinka Igbo guarding
ten clothes designers, twenty-nine celebrities
twelve models, fifteen judges, and forty millionaires,
Laurence T. Tereud charged three grand a night,
if you could get him and his jewelry and his
two hundred law-suited tussles in tow.
He chewed and spit those numbers through his teeth,
through grins at wrestlers and President’s wives
planted on mats and laps as gifted gaffes.
He chopped the forests of Chicagoland
Paul Bunyan and ox, shedding chains
like qualms about playing a self to death.
Then came the Flood, absolving him of gold,
cartooning him for screens, aggrieving him
in the name of everyone who’s suffered
the cruelties of fiction on pedestals.
Barrabas, Baracus, human abacus
on the altar figuring all of us.
Here on a traffic island somebody’s chained
a bicycle painted entirely white—
rims, tires, handlebars, frame. Since September
rogue clowns have terrorized the public.
Is this bike one of theirs, poised for harlequin
getaway? I can picture it now:
variegated legs flung out in full flight,
submarine-sized shoes brushing the wheels
of parked delivery trucks, as the buffoon
hooligan coasts to a Smith Street blur.
At the asphalt junction of Flatbush and Fourth
I've just finished reading "The Absurd,"
by a scholar who studied it for years,
now dead. He worked at Princeton, where
my wife taught seven boarding summers
while she studied other seasons
in Oklahoma, believing she could learn
from prepping the elite. Now we go
back to congratulate ourselves for teaching
poor kids who want to escape by bridge.
Before the towers died, shops on Atlantic
sold Middle Eastern foods, Persian rugs,
religious texts, hijabs, burqas, and thobes.
Storefronts with Arabic-lettered signs
survive with their windows bricked up or shrouded
like elders sworn to vows of silence.
Crowding these old heads, smooth-faced emporia
display artisanal teas, cheeses
of the world, rehabilitated armoires,
and hemp-lined underwear. Rising luxury
condos squat on their corpses, while lost
business-suited uncles walk still-veiled wives past
those same delivery trucks en route
to far-flung neighborhoods of detached houses
where their children are making Americans.
An old, stool-bound, waffle-coated woman claims
the corner of Bond for everyone
who understands what she doesn't say. She is
not begging exactly, but asking
the directions our lives will take, as a worker
approaches from the church's stone steps.
He refuses to crew the job across the way:
a billboard oathing future layouts,
doorman, underground parking, gymnasium.
He smokes as he tells her the story
she could tell herself. A hardhat waves from the hole
like a rescue vessel's fair weather
signal. The sunny city gale blows us
past these islands galleried with art
hung in the manner of old-world salamis.
Further down, the Little Wheel Cafe on Hoyt
perfumes the block with brewed Beirut gold.
Inside, an olive woman I loved in my youth
returns with date-nut cakes she now knows
I won't live without. She smiles as she passes
my plastic future through an Ipad.
Her obsidian eyes bid this aging body
adieu, and I turn to face the sun
reflected in a brownstone's double window.
This prism beams on a seat between cold heat
pipe and two women speaking Chinese
characters etched in the next table's would-be
jazz musicians' foreheads as they plot
the siege of small-town Jersey. Behind them
a jar of agave sweetens us.
Outside the leaded window new construction
rises for citizens people
streaming by are sure to become a decade
hence when they stop swearing the powers
that be understand the need for them
to do the work machines accomplish in half
the time. A garage on Livingston
reveals the truth: Life is a struggle for life.
Close read manholes, confetti showers,
comic books, pretzel salt, coming elections
to signify fury and sound. Whose
hands are passersby meant to shake? A jumpsuit
polishes bronze department store doors
while seven others board a window-barred bus.
Meter maids write tickets in Sanskrit.
I have to choose a route, as a squad car idles
alongside the erstwhile Board of Ed.
The bureau's moved to a borough we mostly
ignore. The renovated building
houses young professionals from private schools.
The cop in the cruiser doesn't care
if the influx translates to better lunches.
Anyway, why would he want to live
around here? Too many immigrants. No peace.
So I decide to turn north, to keep
my distance from the river and Manhattan's
skyline on the other side, on past
the cheap store, where a sports coat could always save
a sorry career, where the gyro
and souvlaki shop confronts the technical
institute, where students in perpetual
hoodies cluster at the door of a building
marked for next year's round of destruction.
The master plan's on nyc.gov.
The City and the Borough and the Mayor
and the Council all have master plans,
but the bagel shop on Fulton has pizza.
Even masters need their solid meals
to survive another day. The office-bound
green space placed on the next super-block
supports a cafe called La Defense which sells
pastries in shapes of corporations
I don't dare eat them, but I do drink coffee
called Louisiane. I wish I could
afford it more often, but then I wish too
the pigeons perched in the rowed locusts
were peacocks. Brooklyn has lost its strut. I've heard
the main museum here could have been
the largest in the world, if the foreigners
hadn't arrived when they did. But that
history lies miles away. Closer lie
the criminal court and the mobile
broadcast vans spilling their pretty reporters
like popped magnums of West-Coast Champagne,
sticky and cold, onto the sidewalk
widened as part of the mogul's zoning deal.
Today's lead story is the stroller derby
from the pre-pre-school to the gourmet
grocery. The celery is certified
organic and makes a great garnish
for selfies. If this scene seems too ponderous
remember what the dead scholar said:
There is no reason to believe anything
matters. As Groucho Marx may have quipped,
he had probably just eaten bad tuna
or lost an esoteric slap fight.
However it was, he must have felt himself
diminished in a fading god's sight,
fading like the taxi's horn as it speeds by
civil court, where a human black eye
barks into her cell, My baby's not even
in school. He can't even tie his shoes.
And his father don't care, as passing students
giggle at her mismatched ensemble.
Their laughter infects nearby business suits,
and pretty soon they don't care either.
Why should they when the temperature's this high
and all words vanish into traffic?
as I do to cross a street named Jay,
President of the Continental Congress.
In the building I aim to enter,
my wife is crafting lesson plans, not thinking
of how, when we met in another
city over barbecue and beer, I knew
I loved her at first sight because she
pulled a slip of paper from her purse and wrote
the name of a German theorist
I would never have time to read. I told her
thank you, and walked her to a drug store,
because we were both sick of cities, and once
or twice on the way to our hotel
we stopped to gaze at lights and not to embrace
until the loneliness made us laugh.
The doctor says that like most things
you don’t expect, it’s roughly
golf ball-sized. But putting
that metaphor aside, you know
this won't be any game.
Last year a marble struck
your father’s scan, an enemy
to share with him, each day
crafting winning stratagems,
heedless as watching
a foreign soccer match
while the government bombs
the stadium you’d placed
on your pastime bucket list.
So you make a date for surgery.
You wear a belt to keep it in
and repeat this can happen
anywhere, to anyone, at any age,
and what if you lived underground
in a country like Afghanistan?
You’d fashion supports
from rags, and tunnel under walls
until you pushed up through
the desert floor, where you’d believe
your family could bribe patrols.
to find a willing medic
when in fact it’s already too late.
The anesthesia’s all used up.
Your family’s abandoned the globe.
The core once yours is no more.
DID YOU THINK?
Did you think when I got old I would keep my mouth shut?
Did you think I would side with the people I'm dying with?
I might make noises about the old days, but I don't believe them.
We had no idea what that hell we were doing. That's the secret.
But don't people mellow with age? No, with age we see
all the things we won't be around to do anything about,
and if that doesn't piss you off, what will?
But you're here, and I need your help. Will you help me?
We have some problems to work out,
like young Evangelical football players who call themselves J. T.
as a way to stand out on a screen because who wants to read
something as boring as John Thomas? Never mind that
every huckleberry south of D. C. is called J. T. or J. R. or J. B.
or B. J. or P. J. Am I supposed to curl up in my pajamas and watch
while these good ole boys and girls steal people's freedom
as the national anthem plays? Somebody's gotta tell them
they don't really know what God thinks. Take it from someone
who's a lot closer to knowing the truth. Somebody's gotta say something
about the difference between scoring a touchdown for State
and leaving a church because a man in a uniform says
that one book tells you all you need to know about right and wrong
and if you don't believe it, you'd better be afraid. I'm here to say
the only thing you need to be afraid of is men like that.
I give coaches more credit than to believe all the things they say,
and God more credit than to give away all the big secrets.
When the men in uniform had my boyhood ears they did tell
one truth: Life is a mystery. God is a mystery. Believe, but not me.
Believe and worry. Doctors and psychiatrists will tell you not to worry.
Don't believe them. Just get up every morning and make worry
a cup of coffee, so the two of you can sit on the back porch
overlooking the beautiful world, and study the landscape for flaws,
all those spots where the colors and shapes speak in absolutes:
the pure good of legalized marijuana, the pure evil of abortion,
the benefits of the free market, the universal justice of socialism.
Some high fool just missed running down a toddler in the lot
of a pot supermarket because he needed a night of tokes
to erase the family he made by accident and couldn't support
because he was born poor and had no guidance
from a father and mother who worked two jobs each,
so he did lousy in school and missed out on college
and now depends on unemployment checks. You see
what I mean? You need to travel around the landscape and see
the millions of ways people suffer are all one way,
the human way. To condemn them for it is
to condemn blue for being blue. But why pick on blue?
Colors are just accidents of refraction. Imagine
the landscape if they didn't all exist?
My hair is losing its original color, but I like to think
that all the color lost is returning to the universe,
not in some new-age, recovering control freak om-
mani-padma-om way, but in a way we can't understand
and shouldn't try. If I offend you with this thought,
take your yoga mat outside and disinfect it
before you give us all the flu or whatever other disease
is about to kill half of you before your time
because we diverted all the money for medical research
into the development of new materials for textured paving stones
around the pools and verandas of CEOs
whose corporations are people only obliged
to line the pockets of stockholders named all of us
suckered into counting on their money to keep us alive
in assisted living facilities and rehab clinics.
People have always needed their living assisted.
Even executives piss themselves in easy chairs.
So get your heads out of your asses, as my old mother liked to say,
and stop marching. Marching does more to help you die
on your feet than it does to help you live. Instead open your mouth,
but not in the way some old fool like me does when he's alone in a park.
Open your mouth to someone's face. Walk into an illegitimate meeting,
because they're all equally illegitimate, and say something intelligent
that will make most of the people there think you're crazy.
Many of them will not be intelligent, but don't hate them for that.
Love them because they need you to open your mouth,
and you need them to open their wallets. I would have said their hearts,
but I'll never be that old. It's all about money, even though it's not.
Make the guy with the new car see that one day after a glitzy party
he'll wreck it on one of those roads that isn't quite an interstate
and somehow survive to see that the woman he thought loved him
was really just trying to overcome her fear of abandonment
by placing her faith in a lifestyle rather than another human being.
Of course it may be the gal who owns the car, and the guy who
lies on the couch in front of the 100-inch screen, while she
click-clacks off in her power suit to strike a deal in the name of equality
for a new factory where the workers will make fifty cents an hour
and raise children who die well before they get this old.
Of course these people will know the value of togetherness
and see clearly in a way that only a car crash or non-fatal heart attack
can offer to many of the people we pass every day on the highway
or the sidewalk, or stand in line behind as they wait for a drug
or a service that we all should be willing to help pay for,
because if you can make it out of the hospital and recover
your senses and think hard enough about what you see,
if you're lucky that way, and you wind up with enough
in your pocket to buy worry the early bird special,
and you genuinely enjoy your filet of sole or salmon
as you watch the sun sink toward a horizon you know
is the same for anybody in the golden years
no matter where, then you'll be me and think to yourself
this, of all things, is the least I can do.
George Guida has published seven books, including The Pope Stories and Other Tales of Troubled Times (2012) and four collections of poems, most
recently Pugilistic (2015) and The Sleeping Gulf (2015). His work has lately appeared in Aethlon, the Free State Review, J Journal, the Maine Review,
Mudfish, Poetry Daily, the Tishman Review, and Verse Daily. In 2018 George completed both a full-length poetry manuscript called “In a Time When
the Ghosts were Alive,” which was shortlisted for the Lauria/Frasca Poetry Prize; and a chapbook of poems called “Zen of Pop,” which was a runner-
up in the Foundlings Press Chapbook Contest and a semifinalist for in the Emrys Foundation Chapbook Contest. At the moment he is working on a
novel called The Uniform and on a non-fiction book about communities of poets across America, called Virtue at the Coffee House.
George also teaches writing and literature, as Professor in English at New York City College of Technology and Contributing Faculty Member at
Walden University. Having just stepped down as Poetry Editor for 2 Bridges Review, he now serves as the journal’s Senior Advisory Editor. Since
2015, he has coordinated the Authors Series at Dansville ArtWorks. He lives with his family in Dansville, New York and in Lynbrook, his hometown
on Long Island.