Monday, July 03, 2006

Professor Martel’s Startling Conclusion (1 of 10)


On a nine month sabbatical
from a mid-west party school

Professor Martel began his research
in an apartment

over a snack shop
near a library in a big city.

Intermittent and distant train wheels
replaced crickets. Whispers

of students
discussing anything but class whispered

only in memory.
Constant and close traffic sounds – engines,

tires on pavement,
horns, doors, drivers – greeted

each dawn, dusk
and all the forty minute periods between.

From eight to midnight
snack-shop conversation – talk and orders –

rose through Professor Martel’s three room apartment.
Food odors

rose, too: Eggs, sausage, bacon,
toast, coffee, burgers, fries, meat loaf,

potatoes and more coffee,
always more coffee. From his bedroom

window Professor Martel
could see the library. And all

windows looked out at old factories
partitioned into stores

and restaurants and office co-ops
and condos and health clubs.

Electricity for lights
and a library card for books,

a mechanical pencil
for writing in his spiral-bound –

Professor Martel settled like a seed
onto damp, warm ground.


It occurred to me without prompting,
forethought or desire

the first time I closed my new apartment’s door.
I stood alone

listening to second-hand snack-shop sounds,
looking at bare bulbs

in dangling fixtures, smelling bug spray
and mildew, tasting spit

that last tasted home grown,
farm fresh and country prepared dinner,

hands cold with sweat closing on warm air,
stomach tight and turning,

and everything rising up at me,
into me and out of me,

leaving me balancing
like a cat on a branch of a tree

during an earthquake – a sort of
embracing safety, embraced

by an even more loving,
thoughtful and considerate fear.

Fear of everything.
And a certain amount of bravery

there, in my new home,
because then my thoughts turned to my old work.

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