Magazine article Tikkun

Midnight Smelting

Magazine article Tikkun

Midnight Smelting

Article excerpt

I swerve like a recovering Communist

through New York's Southern Tier,

a paradise of Croatian sausages and supercomputers,

of flight simulators and sensible shoes,

a topography

of floodplain and forest,

of dreary cities intersected

by the Chenango and the Susquehanna,

whose shores Coleridge dreamt of in his sleep

when he wasn't dreaming of Xanadu.

He never reached the Southern Tier

or broke his bondage to incapacity,

never mustered his forces

for the grand coherent enterprises:

my hero, my comrade in dejection,

the apotheosis of underachievement,

the deepest failure of his age,

the electrifying conversationalist

who bored his friends with talk

of pantisocracy on the Susquehanna.

When I hear thunderstorms in the making

over this failed society of equals,

I pray for a new life: my one true job,

I've never left it, never been paid,

never been passed over. When the boys

cajole me into midnight smelting

I keep my phylacteries in the tacklebox

and my talk of Coleridge out of earshot. …

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