Skip to main content

JANUARY SIXTH, A POEM BY ANDREW SHIELDS

JANUARY SIXTH

 

Johnny's in the attic now, and the snow

has started to cover the skylight with the slightest

sound disappearing into silence.

A bare bulb shines on an unlabeled box—

a set of Pyrex tubes. He pulls one out,

looks through the still clean glass at all the dust

he's stirred up by digging around up here,

seeking nothing in particular

but whatever feeling he might find.

 

The air begins to summon back the Christmas

cough that laid him up till New Year's Day.

He pulls up the cord behind his Bauhaus lamp;

out comes a badge that someone must have worn

since he was a kid—or just held up

to the light to see one corner of the star

had broken off. And on the wall is Bogart—

what's the use of a man in a fedora

no one ever smiles to recall?

He used to dream of repartee, of friendships

that were beautiful enough to end.

 

There's a paisley cloth on Dad's old trunk,

and the lid only opens with a slippery effort

and a cut on his knuckle. Sucking a trace of blood,

he fingers a pair of old sandals it made

no sense to keep, all sentiment forgotten.

This dug-up life just barely feels like his.

Here's a set of guitar strings for the guitar

he'd never seriously played, then handed on

to Bob, who went off overseas and wrote

so many letters, all so long he never

read them, sending only postcards back.

 

When had he last recalled this model airplane?

In the basement, when he should've been in bed,

he'd slowly glued the balsa, piece by piece.

The smell of the glue had slowly overwhelmed

the smell of the wood; he'd gotten dizzy with it

and his lack of sleep, but kept on building.

It'd flown so often, breaking only once,

a simple enough repair—will it fly again?

He's a man in an attic shuffling through his stuff,

things forgotten, things he'll never remember;

he's throwing away his life while the snow falls

and the wind blows whichever way it blows.

 

            Revised February 2009, typed October 2010
 
Andrew Shields' debut full collection is out with Eyewear July 2015!
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

OSCAR SMOSHCAR

The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…