Hey, Mister

It rained last night.
(This is not the weather report.)
Current conditions: the sun is soon
to rise and the cardinals chirp their high,
metallic, scrapy chirp that sounds like an effect
from German techno-pop of a generation
ago (Trans-Europe Express!  First In, First Out!)

There is a man who goes every morning
and every evening to the lakeside park.
He has a black fuzzy-furred dog
who goes with him.  The dog sniffs around
as dogs will do while the man walks slowly
and pensively, his head down to watch the lawn
he’s walking on, or up from time to time
to look out at the lake and its deceptive
horizon.  Is he watching the lawn?  When he’s
looking down, is he watching the lawn?
What does he look for out on the lake,
what does he see, is he looking for anything,
or is he looking for nothing, or is he
looking for the sky to open and show
him the way out?  There’s no denying
he has about him an air of the sad.

I could ask him.
Hey, mister
Why do you seem so sad?
Did your wife die?  I might be sad
if my wife died, at least for
a little while.  I’ve never been
anything other than alone, so I suppose
I’d be fine after a while.

did you lose a child?
Did you lose your fortune?
Did you miss all the best chances?
Is your time running out?
Were you awake when it rained last night?
Do you know why the police cruiser
was stopped at the corner this morning?
(Neither do I, but I saw it and decided
to throw it in here with all this other stuff.)

I could ask him?  Could I ask him?
Then what?  If he tells me his truth,
is this still my poem?

Hey, mister
I’m going to put you in my pome
you and your dog
right here in my pome
where I can call all your shots
and get them every one
right here with the techno-chirping birds
and the rain and the cops
it’s—oh, and my wife, she’s not dead,
and not all my children are lost,
not all my fortune’s been pissed away,
not every opportunity has been blown—
here is the one place I can call home.

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