Two Poems

August Kleinzahler

La Belle Ville

Passenger jets float silently across the thunderheads
in the direction of Chibougamau and Matagami Lake,
one after another. Who can say why:
the Midsummer Meti Mosquito Festival, featuring
live performances and dance workshops, handicrafts …
I watch them pass overhead through the skylight
as I stretch out on the yoga mat, aligning my sore bones.
The loud snap of a wheel clamp on the street below
drives the Rottweiler next door into a paroxysm of rage.
The sun now above the tree line, the world again renews,
bicycling from point A to point B, a box lunch of brie and
ham on a Kaiser roll, 12 grapes, a Fanta, attached to the rear rack.
It continues on like this until the leaves begin to fall
and the first snow arrives, but much the same, different footwear.
Off they go to the groovy software design studio and columbarium,
enorbed by their things-to-do-lists and amorous set-backs.
It’s all enough to drive one to a dusty cubicle, chanting Sutras …
Oh, but oh, the cycle of Samsara, with its lesions, exhortations,
lost appointment books, gratuitous slights, bouts of catalepsy,
her goodie-tray wrapped in a variety of silks or light cottons.
I am the Body of the World, pinioned like poor Gulliver in Lilliput.
Semi-trailers and tank cars filled with ethanol course through me.
I cannot move. A plaque from their exhaust accumulates in my arteries,
the particulate matter taking on a viscosity that resembles despair.


Mrs Sinatra

So, there I was – again – right in the middle of Abbott Blvd.
as if I’d just parachuted in from the Carpathian highlands,
and still without my college degree –
the phantom zoo course, the one I bailed on: vestigial gills,
bat sonar, marsupials … plaguing me, for what, nearly fifty years now
(the folks still hadn’t caught on to that one, not yet,
but they would, oh, my gracious, would they ever …)
on a sodded-over island of trolley track in front of God and everyone,
Joe, the old Serb, mowing away in the heat, slugging down beers,
Mrs Sinatra’s house directly across the way, panel trucks unloading
boxes of Italian cookies, trays of cold cuts, rose and teal icing,
prosciutto around the clock: ‘Only the best for the best, Love, Frankie’ –
there I was, rifling through the toiletry bags I kept in my carry-on.
For what? Never you mind. Nor had I bothered with breakfast …
How someone should have managed to remain unsettled like this
for decades now, such a case as would delight
the student of metempsychosis or literary biographer with a bent
for the pathological … I had had a home once, to be sure:
– Aug, go and help Mom with groceries,
                                                                   not unlike you …