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Sometimes I watch
the man in the benign pastel shirt
and the drab khakis
with the receding hairline
and the thick glasses
cross the street
with a package in his arms;

And I think to myself,
"There goes a good dad,
mild mannered, loving -
trying to make his way
in this savage world."

Then, almost instantaneously,
the doubt creeps in:
"Or, he could be a monster,
who beats his kids,
or his wife,
or sets fire to homes,
or has adolescent prisoners in his basement."

From then on I question everyone I see.

That lovable looking old lady
with her sun hat
and disabled parking pass
might shout racist obscenities
from her balcony
at poor black kids
playing in the park across the street.

The clean-cut young man
in the shirt and tie
with the papers in his hands
may spend his weekends
filling envelopes with anthrax spores -
one for each name on his list.

I can no longer see
the father whose arrival from work
is anticipated by a loving family,
or the grandmother who delights in
handing out the most Halloween candy
to every kid in the neighborhood,
or the industrious young professional
striving to make a meaningful contribution
to society.

I wonder if the darkness I see in them
is a magnified reflection
of the darkness I know
that lurks inside of me.
Rise to meet
The day that greets you.
Do not rise to meet
The day you hope for
Or the day you fear.
The world is millions of
Quarks and neutrinos
Passing through our bodies each day.
The world is protons and electrons
Spinning in perpetuity and decaying.
The world is atoms and valance bands
Bonding into molecules and cells
Building organs and tissue.
The world is people and plants and animals
Feeding on each other to survive another day
In city streets and freeways
And states and nations
And continents and oceans
Under an atmosphere
By a moon
In one solar system
Of one galaxy
Of a universe that has hundreds of billions of them.
And space.
Most of all space.  
Empty and marvelous.
There is time.
Time to greet the day.
Not the day you hope for
Or the day you fear
But the day that is.
I do not know you.
I have a name
But no sight
No sounds
No odors to go on.
No memories whatsoever.

She has told me your name
But that is meaningless to me.
She has told me the stories
But they are meaningless, too -
Like Genesis and Exodus
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

It was a man who raised me
Who took me in and loved me
As his own
And it is for his sake
I do not ask questions
I do not seek you out.

Yet it does not quell my curiosity.
I do not act like them.
I do not think like them -
The ones I know I belong to.
So I wonder
Where do I come from?

Who gave me my music?
Who gave me my short stature?
Who gave me my thinning hair?
As much as I try to fight it off
I cannot help but wonder
Am I a coward like you?
The giant moon lit up the night.
The early June air cool and crisp.
We drove my mother's car through the woods
Up Forker road to the place she was staying.
The Eagles serenaded us through the static of the radio and
We kissed for the first time, bathed in moonlight.
Her smell, exotic and unknown and wonderful.

The giant moon lit up the night.
The early June air moist and perfect.
Cars raced across the downtown bridge overhead.
The night wind and the sounds of the city, our soundtrack.
Graduation was over and we left our friends behind.
Graduation was over and our tongues were intertwined.
I'd never been touched there before, and have never felt like that since.

The giant moon lit up the night.
The mid-August air warm and still.
We parked my beat-up old Ford truck in the middle of God knows where.
She thought she was going to look at the glimmer of stars,
She found a diamond in her sleeping bag instead.
We cried together in hope and excitement.
Her warmth next to me could have sustained me forever.

The giant moon lights up the night.
The early June air cool and restless.
I drive the same beat-up old Ford through the same corners and the same woods
Up Forker Road, thinking about them all.
Not about all of the things that would eventually go wrong
Or the nights when my very soul would ache like no other pain in life,
But of the nights when that same summer moonlight
Poured mercy out on our hearts;
In those moments, life was new and sublime.

The nights not like this one, when the moonlight guides me home to emptiness
And that curious mixture of longing and trepidation
That pours out from a freshly broken heart
And a giant summer moon.
Hey there, baby!
I got what you need.
You came into my store -
I got what you need.
You bought a stick of gum -
Do you want a soda with that?

You searched for a pair of shoes -
Don't you think these shoes are nice?
You liked a post about Darwin -
Darwin books: Half-off!
You listened to the Rolling Stones -
Try some Jeff Beck - I'm a Genius, I should know
you better than yourself.

You thought about ****** -
I can sell you seventeen ways to get away with it.
You thought about suicide -
Better buy one last pleasure before you go - you won't be needing
that money anyway,
Have you made your final arrangements?

You thought about *** -
I know you did
You typed "re"(demption)
Did you mean "Redbox"?
Here are the new releases.
I got what you need.
On a long journey across the night of an America
I drove into the desert landscape and beheld
Elvis and Morrison, Hendrix and Dylan
In a ditch to the side of the road, with trash bags in their hands.
They seemed to whistle while they worked,
But the notes just wafted into the night, not nearly fast enough to catch my speeding

In the morning, I stopped into a diner
With my breakfast and coffee,
I saw a newspaper that was guaranteed by the Andy Warhol himself
to be one hundred percent truthful.
I didn't read it.  Had to get back on the road

The desert went on forever, and in the oil fields
I saw Jackson Pollack, standing by a gusher,
Wearing a cheshire grin.
I smiled back at him, secure in the knowledge that I would have enough gas to get
where I was going.

The announcer's voice blasted through my car's radio.
He said Poe had solved overpopulation,
and that Emerson, Thoreau, Uncle Walt and Miss Em
had got their hands ***** and fed the entire continent of Africa.
I shut him off and bore my eyes down on the asphalt ahead.

I passed a drive in theater on the left side of the road
and caught a glimpse of Scorsese accepting the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Someone told me later that he and DeNiro had stopped genocide.  
I politely nodded and got back in my car.  

Out there was America and I was going to find it.
Out there was industry and capital.
Out there was ingenuity and hard work.
Out there were my own bootstraps waiting for me to pull them up.
Out there was
and I was going to find it fast.
We buy them in colors we like
Because we drive them for years.
My black pickup is shadowy and morose,
But decidedly so - and I am unashamed.

A few are Marlboro Red, Canary Yellow,
Lake Placid Blue, and Classic White.
Some built for speed, or for comfort.
Some built for utility, or for economy.

Most are silver.
They make up a buzzing hive of polite,
Tame, courteous, ordinary, bland worker-bees
Who would never pass out on their neighbors' lawn,
and who would defend her majesty, Queen Normalcy,
With unmatched ferocity.
They seat five to seven people,
With plenty of room in the trunk for the American Dream.

Mine is black, old and faded,
But decidedly so - and I am unashamed;
With only enough room in the cab
For one other person,
And its towing capacity is the mass of the observable Universe.

— The End —