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Installation #63

Kim Maltman
From:   Technologies/Installations. Brick Books, 1990.

        And after that--what? Alienation. Insulin.
        Lights, for example, on the harbor.
                — P. Handke

So many troubles and all we've got to offer up to them
is indecision — maybe have a few drinks
with old friends while the moon is full and they're in town:
they don't know where they're going any better than we do!

I'm sick of pain as a way of life —
but then who isn't? Like an ox to the slaughter —
And spare me the morphine of sentimentality
(unless you want to write for television, that is):
suffering, salvation,
all the little mysteries we're supposed to have
such faith in: boiled down
there's not much more than a thimbleful of
nourishment to all that.

I guess I'm trying to think about my friends,
the cousin from Vermont nobody likes.
Might as well throw in the cat too while I'm at it.
Little crises. Now and then something so overpoweringly terrifying
it paralyzes all the small animals in the
neighborhood when it gets loose there.

I want to know why I can't just puff a little gaiety into them,
a little life. Run a line up through the cerebellum
and inflate them with it, fill them up so full that
someone else could lean against them in their turn,
and (leak or no) be comforted, at least for half a night.

Christ and Christ and Christ and Christ — and Christ again!
There're so many "Christs!" in my head I can't get rid of them all!

If only I'd've had my head turned just a little,
or been not so headstrong,
hungrier for something — god knows what —
I could be ten years gone along the straight and narrow,
with a wife and kids and carefree, and a good job in the city,
on the weekends gather clippings from the lawn up in a wheelbarrow
and be none the wiser.


I want to say to my friends
"We're not getting any younger, you know," and watch them
watching me, looking jaded and a little fearful.

I want to take all those things that
matter to people and cause them pain —
and smash them to pieces.

Then I'll get up in the middle of the night and realize
I've still got three hours of sleep left — and feel glorious.
Hear a dog howling — several dogs — howling together,
going into a frenzy. Soon they'll be
running together, looking for something to chase,
and kill. Then I'll go out and stand by the shore.
It'll be cold and a cold, wet wind will be blowing.
In from the sea. It'll be blowing and I'll stand there,
let it whip the hair against my face.
It'll be out on the headlands where the few
offshore islands sink and dip, in and out among the banks of
fog and morning mist, and I'll keep watching them,
trying to give them continuity — to somehow
feel their presence.
And because I'll want to hate something,
I'll hate the ship that sails past each night, close to shore,
lit up with couples out on the harbor for a night of
dancing and romance. Snatches of music
drift across the water then, you know.
And I'll imagine standing there, wishing all my little troubles,
and my big ones too, out onto that ship,
as it heads out from the harbor, all the
mean unwieldy spirits, all the thoughts and
sorrows, all the grievances, and suddenly
I'll look up, I'll look up and see the people have
stopped dancing — they'll have stopped dancing and be
(gloriously!) standing at the railing,
slowly getting smaller and smaller, with big hats on their heads!

Kim Maltman's works copyright © to the author.

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