Saturday, January 13, 2007

POEM: The Tent by James Scott Linville

Clouds drift into the night sky.
Far from out of sight/out of mind,
I miss Orion even more.

A wet wind almost took down the circus tent.
The ropes beat a tune against the poles.
Just the warm up notes before
the performance. I can’t wait.
And now the band has arrived.
Tootling instruments,
correlating keys.

And me, not a pound
in my pocket (the shame of it!)
and yet, still, here I am,
ushered in,
welcomed to the crowd.

The shame… no, it’s the piercing
music that shames me. But, tonight,
even the gorgeous night sky
shames me. How long
can this go on?

The rest of my life, if I'm lucky.
Sometimes it works
that way. Last night
I prayed, and this morning
the sun rose.

And in between time, I dreamed,
trudging all night
through cloud cuckooland.
In my dream, I even put in
an appearance in tonight’s tent,
showing up pants-less—c’mon, you’ve had
those dreams. So what?

Of course, the only other recourse was
a few eloquent seduction lines.
By the way, who
Was that talking? I think me.
If it was, they were the only
weapons I had. Or rather… defense.

Remember, yesterday, how I swooned
over the shine
of your hair, the blue
of your eye—who
was that doing
the swooning? And
did it work?

Apropos, just last week, I got
a summons for skipping jury duty one
too many times. So I wasn’t in the box.
Instead, it was the docket
for me, before the judge
in my best suit and clean shirt.
No counsel was provided
for me, as had been promised.

My defense? That
I’d swooned over your
brown eyes, that I was daydreaming
about the way your hair shined,
all the things I should have said
yesterday… things I plan, when
I see you next, to say … with all
the insouciant
I can muster.

The prosecutor, a hard-nosed young woman,
said, “The name of the woman in question’s
hairdresser is immaterial,” and
I was inclined to agree.

The judge saw this was going
nowhere, and called a recess and ordered
me into his chambers. His clerk
brushed something off my shoulder,
then barred the door to keep
out the pesky prosecutor.
“Okay, who shot the arrow?” He asked.
“You’re not going to go after HER are you?”
“Hell no, with your record she just
might be the victim.”
“So you think there’s a little
mischief-maker to run
up on charges?”
“Something like that.”
Putting my hand
to the buttons
of my shirt, I said, “I tell you true, I
never saw the chubby
little guy. And certainly didn’t
have a chance to see what hit me.”

As I pulled open my shirt, from
the place around where these lines
just written stuck out, a few
drops of blood seeped.

The judge, hands on knees, gave me
a look, not without sympathy,
and said, “C’mon,
not on the carpet there,

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