Weekly poem on Trump Presidency
I have no feelings about the loud music next door—
it comes from a school; it comes from a Saturday
where there are pumpkins and music and bags of dirt
in order to change beds where flowers have grown all summer.
It is a kind of maintenance disguised as a festival,
which, apropos of nothing, gives us a weekend, an activity.
I have some feelings about today; I have been alive for 50 years
and my mother has not been around for half of that time.
And now my math will make it thus that she will leave
more of my life to me than what we shared.
It will mean an absence larger than a present tense
that feels large, loud, and all-encompassing.
The present tense is not dependent on the mind for existence,
but the mind needs its time, an ethanol of now from ideas planted then
that had some slight sense of future into which, via sun, shadow
and some water, they'd grow, occasionally growl, feel humbled,
rained on, and rent. In two, or into—the access of right now
feels like a rip in sturdy fabric. And if, in the mind,
there's canvas, as sail or as recipient of colors, some palette
provided or providential, why wouldn't it hear the loud music
from the schoolyard and sense what it means when a dead man
with a beautiful voice asks from the great beyond, what's going on?
The speakers sit by gym doors where we'll vote again in a few weeks;
perhaps any old chorus is what makes of us an object
of whatever great verb is out in the world being its cargo-bearing self.
That there is a day, a now, a gray, somehow a mother gone for so long
and yet new ones and their brethren out with their planters
and their pumpkins on an October Saturday, almost November.
The objective for today was some quiet in which to get work done.
Recommendations. Letters. The children are a thought
to be aimed at as in sought, not harmed. Too much harm in the world
today and yesterday and probably on its way like all good hurts
suspect and suspecting. Such that we across from the schoolyard
and Marvin Gaye and Stewardship Day (dirt, flowers, small paintings
deemed sunprints) opt for the best lens closest to the object observed.
October-into-November, the same questions every year.
What correlatives of orange and black and birth
(mine) and death (mother) and then and now?
When the music stops at noon we can go back to work,
but what is the work to which we'll return?
What refund, for whom and what has passed and we've elected?
Every week I think of the film "Breaking Away" and the father,
a used car salesman, played by Paul Dooley, exclaiming, with disbelief,
over and over again, Refund?! Refund?!, puzzled and exasperated
at the audacity of one seeking purchase for the return of their purchase.
When systems achieve objectives, we say that the thing sought
has been found. But sought and found are rarely granted any kind perspective:
that in height and width and depth the record store and the new town houses
on Sullivan Street and the Aikido Studio on Van Brunt—that these things
all relate to each other in a right impression
when viewed from the present tense without a mother
for 25 years and without a sense of where that time has brought one
into a different kind of perspective, one unkind and omnipotent loss.
What collinear points might we map of this day?
There are indeed things for which I am grateful.
For the empty space around me which I might choose to fill
or keep unfilled. That would be a sky that ranges from gray
to blue to black in relation to the leaves that haven't even started
to turn the colors we'd expect this time of year.
What views or prospects one has are one's making—I'm grateful
for what appetites and poems do even when I'm lost or losing
my sense of what's relative and important and seemingly true.
Maybe moreso when a large nation lacks limits and stewards,
has an attitude more serial than names and numbers
on cartridges and casings, whose morning songs worry me towards mourning.
I don't know, and yet I do, proportions out of joint and blue.
One hopes to hear in one's voice or in the voices of good neighbors
some joy in the distributions of sound and time
and the weekend and some stewardship—to take care of,
to need, and to meet that need in the face and voices of others
who are still present and still here.
Michael Morse lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and teaches at The Ethical Culture Fieldston School. His collection Void and Compensation was a finalist for the 2016 Kate Tufts Discovery Prize.