Monday 9 January 2023

Three Poems by Gary Glauber

 




Option

 

The second she says hello,

that breathy essence of voice

gives her secret away.

My brain fills in the rest.

The tall runway model

I only met once before

is calling me from a hotel

a short cab ride away,

asking me to stop my life

to play her generous saviour,

dedicated accomplice

to her present need.

 

It is the kind of challenge

this chaotic universe provides,

two weeks from impending 

wedding to my best friend,

a very different proposition,

a gradual denouement,

a slow boil that has

simmered its way

into comfy heart stew

of tenderized vows

and chunks of affection,

filling comforts protecting

against any soul’s winter,

oozing safe warmth

like a favourite flannel. 

 

Of course, my mind replays

that weekend in Dallas:

national sales conference,

getting to connect faces 

to voices spoken to each week,

territorial reps who handled

military base cosmetic sales

for respective assigned regions.

Smart, independent women,

accomplished workers who

walked the walk and looked the part,

all paying me extra attention

as the young guy from corporate

whose favour may turn out to be

something worth nurturing

in the long run of career growth. 

 

Three days of breakout rooms

with coffee and Danish fuelling

fantasies and grand designs. 

She ran Georgia and Florida, 

but she had bigger plans. 

In that hotel room bed

she told me all about them:

modelling and investing,

jet-setting across a globe

full of infinite wealth and glamor. 

It was one splendiferous weekend

out of a few decades and change,

one she knew I’d never forget. 

 

When I answered the call

in my impressive corner office

that otherwise drab afternoon,

I had no idea of the inexplicable

sad desperation that cried out

in half dare, challenging me to

throw what had been a semblance

of a life assembled over years

of hard work’s stable dedication

into a raging dumpster fire 

of crazy passion pursued.

She was smart, beautiful,

reckless, and all mine,

she assured me, if only 

I could find my way there

within the current hour, 

out the corporate door 

into a speeding taxi 

that would transport me 

from the illusion of security

to one of irresponsible yearning

and dangerous hypotheticals.

 

I looked down, out the window 

at the tiny yellow cabs navigating

the Park Avenue traffic each way, 

carrying the careless and farfetched

to unlikely destinations, lives that held

no purchase in this compromised reality

where I had secured a gym subscription,

a favourite dry cleaner, and a local deli

that knew my favourite lunch order. 

She knew she was calling no adventurer,

that there were shackles keeping me here

and what’s worse was how I knew she knew.

I swallowed hard at what had to be

the metallic taste of hard regret,

inevitable whenever I proved

somehow not quite invincible.

 

The clock’s hands slowed accordingly,

and never again did I ever encounter

that sweet inviting voice or its alluringly

tempting offer of unexpected abandon.

In the years since, I’ve learned to convince

my bruised ego that it never happened. 

Nothing could ever interrupt the steady 

conveyor belt of my own chosen runway. 

Like a well-blended creamy foundation applied, 

all unsightly blemishes and pores disappear

after a fashion, and the illusion is complete:

An unsurprising life has its own rewards. 


 

One Bad Man Leads to Another

 

In the blink of an eye, this creative dupe

is replaced by another, perhaps not as flawed,

less busily tethered to family group,

perhaps not as eagerly shedding soul’s blood.

 

This modern reality’s infinite choices,

each worse than the next, despite having hopes yet.

Each seeming success, a chance to tout numbers,

to lure next big fish into awaiting net.

 

It’s fantastical, yet the irascible one

reminds what a female prerogative’s for:

reeling in one who will gladly comply

in promising easily, willingly, more.  

 

Claiming pure faith in his talented writings,

she fails to invest in a single collection.

Ignoring the facts, yet insisting on trusting,

her charity trades upon blamed misdirection.

 

But no social media’s as simple as that,

and such hesitation further frustrates her.

She wants all his essence, his talents, his passion,

his free time, emotions, and role as creator.

 

She hates to wait, but loves to go shopping

for designer brands that can brand her success.

Such spoils decisively expose this sad ruse

as all about money and no politesse.

 

Avoiding the long term, she crunches numbers,

working to reduce the risk versus need.

According to her, even little successes 

provoke the desire’s insatiable greed.

 

She’ll claim to keep keeping things so very simple,

as latest bad man calls her romantic bluff.

She’ll chide him as indecisive and fearful

until he falls out, when he’s had quite enough.

 

And thus spins the cycle, the next one emerges,

obsessed with the charm of her perfect good looks.

A bad man, a worse one, or even a monster

who takes the bait quickly, not feeling the hook.


 

Crisis of Reflection

 

Textures, colours, skin.

This new day dawning,

a swift surprise sprung.

Eerie impossibility

become veritable reality.

 

An artifact of scrambled dreams,

asserted through careful deliberation,

a reflection, a phone’s camera,

a peek beneath pajamas.

An oddly complacent swap.

 

The voice in his head said

take a breath, all else is familiar,

but the bathroom mirror does not lie.

A strange face has taken over,

replacing, removing what came before. 

 

Internal earthquake, vibration rising.

Let this day start again. Mulligan, please?

But no reversal occurs. Who is this stranger?

Baby steps. A bite for breakfast, chewed with

new teeth assisting a familiar appetite.

 

An abounding solitude surrounding

this unidentified identity,

confounding without comfort.

Yet another inexplicable event,

rare but not unheard of.

 

Hiding from the beatings life delivers,

like trying to hit an unexpected curveball.

Gentle dreams disarm, lure him in

with softness of a willow, weeping

for the heavy lift of change underway.

 

The mood is hard to discern. He learns

by shifts, a fraught quietude, a pretend calm.

No laws to enforce, more hold off and see.

These different perceptions are caustic, costly.

A hard handshake to cover inner turmoil,

 

and a lifetime of regrets as false memory dictates.

This is his revisionist legacy, as many reject this new

skin surrounding him, the dark blight of inspired

fresh tensions, arguments simmering just beneath boil,

a world of punches just one clenched fist away.

 

What happens next in such a resistant world?

Extremists feed their propaganda to hungry masses,

motivated by fear and armed with a distrust of everything

and a simple need to connect the dots into a recognizable whole.

Minutes slow to painful seconds that pass without relief.

 

This new voice, gruff with history, mumbles and shouts

about shadowy misunderstandings, years of struggle without reason.

The forced distance now palpable, muffled grunts of angry acceptance,

a slow coming of rage, shot between the breastplate of identity,

the assumed heartbeat of woozy pride, timing the unrehearsed scenes

 

of a stranger’s life lived in the recesses of a foggy penumbra.

Get used to the new numbers, the metamorphosis from

insensibility to discovered sensitivity that raises the ante.

It’s a slow trudge through history, but a quick transition.

This, he tells his incredulous brethren, is the new majority.


Gary Glauber is a widely published poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist. He has five collections, Small Consolations (Aldrich Press), Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press), Rocky Landscape with Vagrants (Cyberwit), A Careful Contrition (Shanti Arts Publishing) and most recently, Inside Outrage (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions). He also has two chapbooks, Memory Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press) and The Covalence of Equanimity (SurVision Books), a winner of the 2019 James Tate International Poetry Prize. 


 


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