Saturday, December 3, 2022

From the bus window


 

He was playing air guitar,

I mean, really. Solo, right out front

of a junkyard, a discarded marble doorknob

curled in his left hand, right hand dream-rolling

from finger to finger reaching

for notes you could see clear through.

Skipping the easy chords, I heard

all the most difficult. I toggled

through faces of passersby

--- they weren't looking, not at his open army coat,

hairless legs, sneakers. If only he'd

had a styrofoam cup or an army cap

between his feet, they might have witnessed,

and tossed a coin.

 

                                           But he was playing it solo --

silent guitar, blind audience. I alone stared,

riding along his bridges, and yet,

I was angry no one seemed to want to hear

him. Maybe that's my problem -- I mishear.

The other day, I heard a guy say,

"I graduated from failure," and I thought,

there's a school for that? They should advertise

on the buses. Make a mint. I could use a course

or two, of course, more could improve

my rate of failing. Sustained failure. Pushing

failure to its limits.

 

Maybe failing was something he left behind. Could

the air guitarist and I, all of us, become such experts?

Congratulating each other when we lost

another case, spilled another cup,

dropped another thou in the market?

Since most of my life looks like

something I need to apologize for, I'd like a degree

to hang, "Expert in Failing." Remember,

I said I have this problem mishearing --

you are free to make anything you want

of this. If you heard me say, "misbelieving,"

for example, that's okay, too, because everything

I say is interchangeable.  Put a Phillips head, blade first,

in the guy's left hand and he could be riffing the air

trying to find the hidden stud

behind the wall of the home he may have promised

himself after the war, in which case, failure starts

when he locates the dull place

after so many remarkable echoing taps, or

is sometimes taken as success

 

depending on whose side you're on, sort of like

a war, when the headlines say, "War Going Well,"

and you wonder,

for whom?

 

©2012 Muriel Thumm

 


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