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Poem in Which I Sort of Break Down

Clay Matthews

Another spring rain about which I have nothing
new to say, only yes and thank you and sadness,
I get in the car to drive around and let the dust
of another week wash away, and play The Temptations
“I Wish It Would Rain”—both because of the temptation
and the rain, the what might have been, what I perhaps
wanted to be, what couldn’t be. We never stop losing.
But it is green and wet and the world has opened up
and while the world is doing this I am going inside
myself, driving down old blocks I haven’t been through
in years or perhaps have never been through—I don’t
remember any more, I don’t remember so many things
Dear God, it’s me, Clay, am I going senile at such a young age.
And Dear God, it’s me, Clay again, what are we supposed to be
doing what is sexual what spiritual why women and men
why why and why not something else. So I listen to the song
and I listen again and drive, looking at each house, slowly,
wondering who lives there, what they fight about, what
they make love about, which small movements, which
glances, which propositions accepted properly in the early
afternoon of a rainy day. The houses turn to smaller versions
of themselves, and then wooden versions of their brick selves,
and I as the big bad wolf go backwards into the poorer part
of town, but I don’t want to blow them in and I may or may not
want Little Red Riding Hood, sashaying her way over
the sidewalk between home and the hollers of a thousand
of us men who lack either self-confidence or self-control
or a proper definition of the self as properly defined by postmodern
theory and/or theology. So I pass through the houses
and on and into a graveyard, graveyards being places I usually
stay away from I am slightly superstitious and have no definite
knowledge or faith one way or another on ghosts, but I go,
and I look, and it is green and gray and the many flowers
have closed or are closing themselves at this very minute,
while on a chain-link fence near the edge I read a sign that says:
Flower thieves will be prosecuted. Then we will all be prosecuted!
And none of us should be, neither (and all of us, too). I have no
good reason, today, to be happy or sad, so I am both at once
for which I have many reasons. Sunshine, blue skies, please
go away. The wet, wet world and west, young man. Small breaks
in the clouds and small rays shining down but no rainbows
because at this point a rainbow would just be too much.
Only pieces of light and the promise of more light
on the other side and the grey clouds so full of themselves
they could be any of us they could be me, the sound of rain
but no thunder, the sound of music but no voices, the sound
of the right person in the wrong place, the wrong moment
in the right life, and I know to you it might sound strange,
but I’ve nothing else to rely on (Dear God it’s me, Clay).
And I wonder sometimes if steering wheels are just there
to mock us. And I feel terrible about the whole argument between
free will and destiny. All that I want is everything I want.
Music and rain and slight variations between the two.

Clay Matthews

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