“I don’t love her anymore,”
declares John Carpenter,
film director,
about his horror-genre
film career that catapulted him to fame.
He has spent three decades
of his life to his art,
& the trade-off
has scared him…
An early morning quarterback
with the ennui of nights on his eyes,
the old fogey isn’t shocked,
things turn around like a nightmare
& he crosses his fingers,
hoping for a miracle
that it is still her,
an idee fixe of his wakings,
as he drifts
with the current
toward the edge where

She was lovely
but for Jorge Luis Borges,
her face was telling him
to forget it…
She wasn’t meant for him?
Immortality is too heavy
a burden?
Borges is a blind old man,
full of memory & tortured by it,
but his tears
quickly dry up.

He no longer hears of her.
might as well be
in her comfort zone.
Surely she’s high on her lover,
but will it last forever?
He’s no doomsayer
but he has lived long enough –
He knows the spectacle
like the back of his hand.
Will he be around
when she comes to her senses?
The Real is a tiger in ambush.
quick to savagely snap.

He’s so damned sure
none will come out of it:
The gestures & saccharine tears –
he’s no theatre guy,
after all,
who can mime Lear
to dramatize
how time & circumstance
can be beastly cruel.
But all his imagined lows
will fail to fathom
why some questions rise:
blindness is mistaken
for clarity of seeing.
Should he kick the bucket,
& be done with useless grief?
Only if he were Schopenhauer
who welcomes nobly & in high spirit
the shadow of evening…

She is gone, yes.
He keeps mumbling
like an autistic child in metronomic way:
Gone, gone, gone
ring in his ears
like Poe’s “Bells, bells, bells!”
He stumbles in his mind like a drunk,
but straightens up to assure all
he’s all right,
he can manage…
No need to be syrupy sentimental,
so none can laugh behind his back.
He’s civilised like an emperor,
keeps studious appearances.
He welcomes the rain
falling this summer,
& like Chaplin
his tears flow down his cheeks
like visible water.

What is there to say?
It is almost ceremonial
every morning –
The young professor
laughs when he slips:
I can’t sleep well,
there is no future,
& the present cannot even exist.
He grins dutifully,
of course,
as if it’s a joke.
He’s being funny
like a jolly Englishman
who suddenly
one day
shoots himself
which jolts everybody:
Why, why, why?
A stupid thing to do…
Like waking up in the morning
& doing the same dreadful
work routine?

He wonders
why the bank teller
repeats herself as if it’s second nature:
recoding the pass book,
feeding the computer,
calling up your name
& breaking into a smile.
The whole day
is the same story
& he shudders:
What is she thinking
as she counts the money
that slides off
her fingertips?
She will dream on,
like a rat
in a spinning cage.
Don’t ask her about the
She has tunnel vision –
an hour at the pub
then off again
the following day
to wage her war of attrition against herself.

& the professors,
slow to mount the podium,
are quick to read
their scholarly dissertation:
they want to PowerPoint
something already
moot & academic.
Scoring fellow scholars
in the crimson word play.
While the weather
outside is stormy,
as if waiting for them
through the torrent
like their words
poised for their drowning.

So there she is,
a streak of lightning
across the dark sky
of his memory:
O she is all that
shards of remembering
on the dying fire
to signify
a loss,
a heartbeat,
a drop of tear
that quickly dries up
that she once was,
a brief grunt
in his laughter…
O How he could be
so stupid
to have even contemplated
a possible dying?
No one, after all,
is worth it.
& he wondered
how the man on the tarmac,
even JR,
would be rethinking
in the limbo
of the beyond
where they have all the time
to reconsider.

So the day’s papers
make him feel ill at ease:
Greeks are up in arms
against the austerity program,
Brits protest their slashed
pension funds,
Arabs usher in their second Spring
while militants
man the barricades in Manila
against the President’s fantastic tales…
What is there to do?
What is there to be done?
As Lenin cries from the grave.
Will the children live
to ripe old age
with their trousers rolled
while the sirens still
echo in their ears?
Wasteland is Eliot’s
sordid story
to acknowledge the future…
Can we handle the truth?
dares Jack Nicholson…
O if we could only
be wiser, finally bolder,
leaping into the abyss
that words are cold comfort –
& we must pick something
more ominous, devastating
& push aside those who
speak the untruth.

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