Seasonal Ramble Poem By Tony Towle
Genoa salami on a bagel? Why not
offend two cultures at once? Three
if you count a few of my relatives.
Ah, time seems to fly when you get up at 4.
Stocks uncharacteristically took their cue from bonds
and tumbled throughout the afternoon.
Not that I could have done much to stop them
as they fluttered down through the recessional air
to the economic floor;
for there are two kinds of people in the world
and I assumed I was one of them—
another notch to loosen in the belt of impressions
while slowly, not too slowly for me, of course,
but not quickly enough, perhaps, for the impatient Future,
I master the art of losing my hair—
in conjunction with which I pause,
for yet another birthday—renewal? or just one more step
up the ladder whose last rung will be gone.
No one actually called me
but my fax gave me a series of beeps,
and Groggy and Feral, two of the household gnomes
I employ for such purposes,
brought in the two videotapes I ordered.
But five minutes into Your Personal Destiny Revealed
and the screen just went blank. I hope
the tape was defective,
if you know what I mean.
However, once I started watching Ferocious Biblical Scenarios
I was hooked. Instead of a tangle of prophecies, admonitions,
and theological posturing,
exciting events jumped out,
while into the room wandered my know-nothing
teenage stepson. Splat
went David’s stone against his forehead;
my stepson, the Philistine, was dead,
an anachronistic victim of the media.
But let me introduce some of the rest of the “family”:
my theoretical older brother, Andrew,
who personified himself as a hurricane
and tore through the family fortune;
my great-aunt Beulah, who, though not an actual
force of nature,
could win numerous awards
for inducing perspiration in others
and who would be happy to trumpet your failures
like bugles in the public domain,
where bystanders would be cut dead within seconds
of saying anything funny. And Uncle Henry,
who received the Teflon Star with Bulbous Clusters Removed
for distinguished but baffling conduct
in a lifetime of domestic skirmishing.
But don’t stretch out on a basaltic scarp of genealogical fantasy
and imagine that you’re really alone,
or think that “being alone” is a synonym for enlightenment.
Confused as to who is actually speaking,
and using such terms as “basaltic scarp,”
I sneak up to the attic and raid my Uncle Bob’s
ever-diminishing matchbook collection for illumination.
He himself was an invention of my grandfather’s cousin,
last seen by humans in the late Chalcolithic,
somewhere between Indiana and Utah,
indulging in ground-breaking obscurity,
a fictitious characteristic he nonetheless
seems to have passed on.
I take another media break, The Disaster Channel,
in time to see terrified golfers fleeing bolts of lightning,
mashies and niblicks flung away
like weapons cast down by the Edomites,
it’s almost a ferocious biblical scenario,
before switching over to the Esoteric Network
to watch the Revelations of the Week in Obscure Tableaux
dissolve into patternless sensors.
Speaking of coming apart, it’s time to see what fate,
will unveil for me in the tableaux of the coming year:
YOU WILL HAVE A VERY PLEASANT EXPERIENCE.
YOU CAN BREEZE THROUGH MOST OF THE DAY.
YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO MAKE MONEY AND HOLD ON TO IT.
YOUR LOVE LIFE WILL BE HAPPY AND HARMONIOUS.
IF YOU’RE THE ONE THAT’S MUMBLING INCOHERENTLY,
And no doubt there will be more such premonitions
to illuminate the scenes with misdirection,
though that will remain private,
though perhaps not only to me.
THERE IS A TRUE AND SINCERE FRIENDSHIP
BETWEEN YOU BOTH,
my fortunes conclude,
SO TAKE A MINT AND KISS YOURSELF GOODNIGHT.
from The History of the Invitation: New and Selected Poems 1963–2000