Thursday Poem

How The Other Half Files Its Teeth

Turns out the whole time I was on the wrong veranda,
the wrong island, with the wrong crew,
swamped by low grade talk about high grade bonds.
The porch steps swarmed with Italian leather.
A band of natives navigated the lawn in bare feet
so as not to disturb the plantings.

A splinter had announced itself to my palm
and I worked with nearly biblical stoicism
to dislodge it. An overweight mime appeared
and, without glancing up or speaking a word,
ate a heaping plate of tangible pasta, then left.
A congressman juggled chainsaws until the burnt
gasoline became an irritant and he was bullied back
to his yacht. A set of unicyclists in leathers
rode past, making infantile frowns.

Meanwhile, the splinter. I went indoors
seeking implements, iodine, a liquor chest,
& found myself before a phalanx of photoed
and portraitured family that to me meant squat.
Fireworks came to fruition at the window,
on a nearby island, and it occurred to me—
my island, my pyrotechnics lay elsewhere.

This has happened before, when I, carting
letters from the mailroom, am stopped
by a pinstriped suit with a topknot of grayish hair.
The suit smells of currency and wears on its wrist
a timepiece that mocks me with its accents.
I am asked to golf or to a cigar-smoking fete.
I stand there producing the face of a spearfish
lying dockside, an expression mainly
taken for yes. Then the inevitable clap on the back,
the click of the roulette trigger.

by Dan Pinkerton
from The Boston Review
November/December 2010