We adjust the background
so that I am still in a forest
but of the more traditional kind,
not made of brick, steel, cement and glass,
but composed primarily of wood
and auxiliary vegetal matter,
aerated with avian sonorities,
and partially obscured
by “air products,” such as mist or fog;
but there is a spacing between predators
so generous that our Paleolithic relatives,
wherever they might be watching from,
would think that life in our world
was a safe and wonderful thing.
I pause in the mist or fog, because
this is where one runs across things
good for supplementing the present with —
or what’s left of the present
after the morning news
has finished its dismemberment —
and I found something: When Phil Niekro
retired from the Atlanta Braves
there was no longer a player
in major league baseball
older than I was. He achieved
this distinction in 1987
and has never relinquished it.
What has happened since then?
Honestly, I don’t keep track of him.
Oh, you mean to me? Well, lots of things
of course, but I’ll maybe get to them later,
since I’ve been admonished
for living too much in the past,
though by whom is lost in the past.
The Phil Niekro discovery
came from one of the newspapers
I perused during the eons of down time
consequent to proofreading at Forbes,
where in two years my only good “catch”
was pointing out that Luxemburg
was not a principality — as written, a synonym
for minuscule polities — but a grand duchy.
Maybe two weeks later, while
still resting easily on my laurels,
I missed a typo so egregious that my luster
was tarnished beyond reclamation.
So, back to the present —or what’s
left of the present after the evening news
has finished gnawing on it —
where there is no further word
on the Somali pirates
who attempted to seize my poems
and hold them hostage.
What were your poems doing
in the Strait of Hormuz?
You mean the Gulf of Aden.
You may well ask.
I wish I were at liberty to say.
So that’s as far as I got with the first draft on my laptop,
while sitting unnoticed for an hour in the shoe store
except by the guy in the chair on the other side of the aisle,
who was keeping an eye on me until my contact showed up —
2 o’clock was that approaching hour — and then he abruptly left
a minute before she, the no-nonsense-taking Mrs. Blackstone,
walked in from my long-past-due assignment;
and when I mentioned the departed observer, she said
that he wasn’t one of hers; and I looked down at my watch
to evade the stare that italicized my blunder,
and saw that it was quarter to three — I had just lost 45 minutes!
but in fact it was 55 years that I needed to go back and fix;
and those alterations would never fit in the space at the end of the file,
but they could offer reflections enough to beguile the obfuscating eye.
Recipe courtesy Greed & Prejudice: Today’s Republican
The McConnell Sour
Select despicable behaviors and muddle thoroughly;
self-dealing and hypocrisy are customary, but condescension
and duplicity are time-honored as well — be creative.
Blend ingredients until opaque; add bourbon until palatable.
Garnish with pomposity; serve with a cynical smirk.
Note: Furtive dollops of vodka make it a Moscow Mitch.