Paul Guest

When the best of it is prized from the dung
of the Sumatran common palm civet,
sweetened like a cherry in the gut
of this little island cat, I feel better
about not drinking coffee, sipping instead sweet
tea crude as a hammer. I feel
better that I never read much
Tolstoy, stopped at the bulwark of so much
French. I should begin
a second life. I should not dream
of my macrobiotic afterlife
in which I am what I do not eat
and the animals I loved enough
to eat grass, to pretend one thing was another,
purr and sing and chirp
sweet hosannas outside my bedroom window
where sometimes we made
love but never continuances
of our selves which we'd name
Hank or Emily while saving up for Harvard.
I feel better that none of me
works well at all,
that for twenty years the fog
has never lifted
from the landscape I mean to cease defiling
someday. Thank you
cards I should have mailed
and gifts given
and favors repaid with crippling interest
I grow to love
the way I once loved
shame. What will I do with my days
now that my nights
are sublimely alone
and how will I make use of this wound
I carried like a map
so that I would never, never
lose you?




I wanted to write a kind of ode that wasn't about the ideal but just the crappy, compromised, wounded real.