The Record

The record becomes increasingly random, jumping from book to book as the spirit moves, with no agenda but to soothe the mood of the savage geezer increasingly plagued by what he’s losing, whole deserts and beaches of lovely sand slipping through his creaky fingers. Get a grip, he tries to tell himself, but he scarcely speaks his own language — maybe that’s why he has to write for an ideal reader who understands — and those sands keep running waterwise through his lines of least resistance, unable to withstand the least passing passion without feeling the force of its sweet grief. So many poems he can’t read, can’t stand to hear at the mass gatherings or sad support groups of the earnest with nothing more useful to do than applaud one another’s pathetic efforts. And who are you but one of them all your life in need of the same affirmation, trying to get their attention, or someone’s, by singing into the wind. It’s deaf, you know by now, or at least indifferent, as are the gatekeepers who send regrets that those lines lose something in translation and are inadmissible. Like burying a capsule in the backyard, putting some trace of yourself on some little pages for the eyes of some intimate eavesdropper you’ll never meet is an act of something like faith, akin to those old poems whose sole purpose was to seduce some woman you hardly knew but imagined could hold your hunger, at least for the length of an embrace. But she was so seldom able to contain your desperation that you just kept composing odes to every beauty you could barely see, dazzled as you were by the rays of their eyes, their Renaissance mouths and silky or wiry tresses. You should have been born in a book and settled for that, the Norton Anthology of Lost Causes, where love songs come to lay down their arms when all the losing battles have been fought.

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