Gary Glauber spends a large part of his year grading papers, and trying to imagine magical ways of transforming rambling essays into cogent, compelling prose. No such magic yet exists. Still, the dream is a pleasant one.
When not grading papers or writing poetry, he contemplates the nuances of effective enjambment and listens to a lot of obscure music that, in some alternate time-space continuum, proves to be tremendously popular.
She sits there, despondent, reluctant to smile
or concede any inch to this belabored cultural misstep.
The forced politesse of the annual ritual,
the gathering of kith and kin on this
extended holiday weekend, the small talk
over tall drinks are painful barbs in her side.
Never has so much meant so little.
Instead, her thoughts travel to faraway lands
where there’s a strange beauty to the dusky stillness
of a famine-torn village’s quiet sunset,
a grace attached to the constant need
for water, aid, empathy and understanding,
interrupted only by the soft drone of flies.
Here an errant piece of meat drops off the grill
gets grabbed up quickly by the neighbor’s dogs,
and potato chips grow stale on patriotic plates.
Her mother sees the looks of disdain and disgust,
and thinks back to when she was that certain age.
She too had ideals and desires to change
a world clogged up with aggravated injustices
and antiquated rules that served the few over the many.
She smiles for the perspective that time affords,
but it’s not a happy smile, and after a moment,
she goes to refill her drink, hoping against memory
for a new distraction to quiet her thoughts.
They meet of a nonchalant Tuesday,
a furtive dalliance held in shadows
of anonymous calendar squares.
They talk of topography and textual innovation,
wisdom revealed in marginalia commentary,
old school versus new, the impoverished mind
and the skewed logic of koans and riddles.
Suggestions are made to explode moments,
to recollect fragments, to revise toward framing
a pioneering labyrinth of power verbs and
pithy connotations. The message often is
gently agitated, thrown easily about
like the gift of day after storm-tossed night,
the cycle for silks and fine linen washables,
or being stuck halfway between a dictionary
and a compelling second stanza. It’s a haunted
pastiche with lines blurred, Venn diagrams that
both overlap and exclude, tacit ideas transfixed
by money and politics rather than nature.
Mumbled phrases are traded and there’s
a comfort level to this carrying on,
as old words are exchanged for new. The contours
of this pivotal transaction create idyllic vistas,
profoundly tamed rages, and a random world
yet to be explored.
He returns to revisit old haunts,
eager to measure how much remains
of that remembered magic,
but the discovery is this:
settings change and even a distant sunset
over the reservoir’s wide horizon
retains none of the charm and savoir faire
experienced together that autumnal afternoon
when, after sharing anecdotal amusements,
she confessed all the reasons why
they could never be anything more
than a small footnote to a dream.
He had pleaded otherwise,
in a rare show of vulnerability,
but hadn’t swayed her firm conviction.
Now a trifling tract house stands
where the billboard had been,
another disturbing reminder of suburbia.
Staring at the parade of cars and trucks
whizzing by the underpass,
he is struck by the insignificance
of what once loomed so large.
The bounding hum of their high-speed passing
is an echo that stretches toward infinity.
For life is a thruway, and further along,
exits become numbers, not places,
markers forging some larger journey.