I did a doubletake
when I saw the title
of my friend’s new poem.
But when I looked again,
I saw it really read:
Completely out of character
for her to write
She’s usually so serious;
takes on the world’s pain,
and yes: sometimes elegiac.
We were talking about Metternich
on our lunchbreak –
Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich,
one of the most important diplomats
of his era –
the Austrian Empire’s Foreign Minister,
the Donald Rumsfeld of his day (early 19th century).
He stood in the way of progress,
we all agreed,
fought the forces of liberalism
like some Darth Vader figure
representing the Empire.
Or was he not really so influential after all?
Should we cut him some slack?
He did his best, but
he was essentially powerless,
could only rely on his own persuasiveness,
same as any fast-talking hoodlum
trying to talk himself out of an arrest,
just an impotent Wizard of Oz
trying to hide Austria’s weakness
behind a smokescreen of words and argument?
But of course we weren’t talking about Metternich.
Nobody talks about Metternich,
and why would we,
when the Ravens were imploding
right before our very eyes,
and Lamar and Khloe’s marriage
rumored to be on the rocks?
Film Noir Patois
“What’s that mean?” I asked my grandmother.
I was spending the night,
my parents out at a party, late,
me just nine years old.
To sweeten the deal
Gammy’d made buttered popcorn
and we stayed up way past my bedtime,
watching old movies
on her black and white RCA Victor,
color television still only a dream.
“What did he mean when he said
she was a gal who knows
how to use a revolving door?”
I forget the movie,
but the straight-arrow detective
was talking to his partner
about a slinky girl in tight dresses.
It had to be something vital to the plot.
I could recognize slang when I heard it.
“Don’t you worry about that!” Gammy warned,
her tone harsh, judgmental,
as if I’d misbehaved somehow,
but when she saw I hadn’t realized
I’d said anything wrong,
she laughed outloud
at the abashed look on my face:
blindsided, chastised, confused.
I dropped the subject,
soon forgot all about it,
gripped in the drama of the detective
busting the bad guys, then going home
to the hot meal his wife had prepared.
Now there was a girl
who brought her own skates to the rink!