Friday, February 1, 2013

Second Thoughts, a call and response

cover art: kenneth koskela

On Second Thought
by Ralph Murre

You know that conversation where they ask
who you want to be with on an island,
and you say Gandhi or Walt Whitman
or Slim Whitman or Penelope Cruz
or, maybe, a guy with a big    boat?

Well, nuts to that –

I want to be with the person
who first put a snooze-button on an alarm clock.
I want to be with the person
who first put an eraser on a pencil; that little,
curved, undo arrow on my computer screen.
I want to meet the guy who invented reverse.
Wouldn’t it be pretty good to meet the person
who figured out what to do
when you’d put too much salt in the soup?
I want to be with the person who found the antidote
for some kind of snakebite,
and I want that person to like me very much.
I want to be able to change my mind
if this person plays banjo or prefers Lite beer.

I won’t get all Henry VIII about it,
but I want to be able to change my mind.

On ‘On Second Thought’
by Amy Murre Klemm

Yes, my uncle –

These are all well and good –
and you’ve got me wondering why
it is always one,
What are the chances of just one?

But if it must be, if that’s the game,
and if like you say we can’t choose
the guy with the boat or the
one with a good shortwave radio or the
genius with a matter transporter or the
mama who can change you right quick
to one of the mer-people,

then it is time to ponder.

Your second set may well be better, for
Would Gandhi be too political, even way out there?
Would Walt be forever after your favors?
Would Slim yodel endlessly for help?
Are we sure of Penelope without her makeup?
Of Penelope at all for real?

Instead you want the innovator,
the second chances and thoughts,

And just so,
I believe I want the escape artist,
not the magician, but the pleasure artist,
the master of stupid and lovely acceptance.
The ancestor of all those who say, Ah,
Well, fuck it
He who first said, Nah, I ain’t shook.

The master horticulturalist,
the builder of stills,
one who can stay alive but not too much engaged,
and teaches it well.
Falling ass-backward into fresh water and
simple little foods as elsewhere
he might have into money,
reminding you that you’re fine.

I want the guy who first decided on
staying up all night drinking and
sleeping past noon,
who will ask me, with real lidded eyes,
What else do you have to do today?

The inventor-of-the-hammock type,
the discoverer of naps in the shade.
A builder of great fires. A dancer. A drummaker.

The bather in springs,
the gazer at horizons.
Quite possibly a tamer of small friendly animals.

Not one to panic when our hair gets growing
out of control, when our noses burn a little red.
The one who says, with a tip of the head, and
not long after you’ve washed up on the shore,
Well –
here we are.
So what do we do
while we wait?
and smiles,
and passes you a bottle,
or a little rollie, or both.

I wouldn’t even balk at the banjo.
Might even help him carve a rocking chair
for the porch on the little shack we’d build,
not too quickly or too well.

~ these two pieces first published as a pair,
  a call and response, in The Cliffs “soundings”