The Open Society and its Enemies
The heat is solid, like the crowd inside.
At a table under the awning
in front of the place, I go lizard
until the beautiful crazed waitress comes.
Iced tea and a bran muffin.
Dude on NPR said we must learn
to live without air-conditioning
and become more “versatile” creatures.
Yes, please, cream-cheese.
Across the way, at T. J. Maxx
and Filene’s, my wife looks
for a blouse that at least looks like Nieman Marcus,
which if she fails is also here.
I visualize her judiciously pursed
lips, which before the recession
graced Ann Taylor. There is a variable
of seven figures that equals a minimally
urbane life; it is known to the rich.
A disturbance in the restaurant …
Those involved emerge. In the scrum
of shrieking does and bugling stags
and lawyers with drawn phones at ten paces,
I can’t see: is it some
perve, from the johns, off his meds, impatient for service,
or one of those always surprising
eruptions of despair? And will it
delay my iced tea?
Then across the walkway, U.S. marshals
and obvious FBI
remove from one of the stores
someone else I can’t see, who may have a beard
and melanin, or be one
of those corn-fed albinos who volunteer
to boil their brains Eastern-style instead
of in our native modes. He’s praying
and/or shouting; I can’t hear.
The feds are getting good at this.
But is my wife in that store? With
anthrax … ? Wildly I call.
She is trying on something that sounds sublime
and – grimly, triumphantly – cheap.
“Did you see anything?”
“Nothing we need.” “Little excitement out here – “
(Actually it’s over.) But she’s
preoccupied, and asks for more time.
Although it’s the same ten outlets
as anywhere, this mall tries
to make them look distinctive.
With holograms at each crossroad:
vast babies; athletes; the blue gods
from Avatar; approaching figures
that are the shoppers they approach, except
smiling; windows on the foam
of perilous seas in faery lands forlorn.
Only the giant CNN screen
may be a miscalculation –
a pod of whales in the oiled sea,
all dead or dying in agony,
appear a moment, not again.
The heat is stunning. I try to think,
but the only phrase that occurs is Olson’s
“mu-sick” (from Maximus),
which all critics agree is tasteless.
And suddenly my bagel with cream cheese
and iced tea are there,
and are the platonic forms of themselves,
though the bagel has blueberries. From above,
the songs that soothe and inspire the crowd
have turned vocal. Sinatra “telling the story”
as someone said, Neil Young
sounding vulnerable, Janis cheerful,
the martyred Marley acclaiming wan love.
Frederick Pollack has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Fulcrum, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), The Hat, Bateau, and Chiron Review. Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Snorkel, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, etc. Recent Web publications in Gloom Cupboard, Blinking Cursor, Occupoetry, and Seltzer.
Copyright © 2013 by Frederick Pollack