The blind man at my gym
has a tattoo on his left shoulder
of a heart and a banner
showing the name of his girlfriend:
Monica, who told him to get it
though he’s never even seen
it, or her, for that matter.
He bats his way around the equipment
with his white cane twitching
like the feelers on a lobster’s face,
choosing the inclined bench
to do his hundred sit ups.
We laugh at him as we tread
on the treadmills, eyes forced
into TV screens on the wall.
We are told the world’s at war,
the tuna’s tainted, again,
this pill will make us thin,
and that one helps us sleep.
We believe as he believes,
groping through the minefields of primetime
with TV antennas to guide us beyond
the uncertainties of love
and the unseen obstacles
we grapple with in the dark.
In the dim light of the bus
rocking through black nothingness
to Boston , I burn my eyes out
reading poetry, clinging to each image
the way a rock climber clings
to every crack and bump.
Red taillights guide us,
describing the homeward hurdle
with two-dimensional determination.
Looking back at my weekend with you
I cringe at all the slapstick slips
I performed on unseen banana peels.
Stalking through the grid of Manhattan ,
street names, student faces, shop displays,
the beery comfort of old taverns
helped erase the flashback scenes
flickering on stained scrims
of gauze ghosting across the stage.
But now in the desperate cradle of this bus,
impacted with dozens of other dark lives,
each perceived ignominy rushes back
dropping scenery from the fly
striking up the band to signal the final act
and stoking footlights to reveal the real villain.