Fiasco & the Self

by jdavidcharles

There are ways we show the self to the self,
metaphors we sketch and plan in some deep and accidental
part of our intention, similes we build brick by brick only to watch
in that brief flight of a moment deconstruct, whispering nakedly
to ourselves into our own ear, Yes, you really don’t matter terribly much.
Like a build-it-yourself bookcase I purchased, laid out,
and built slowly, the books of poetry to fill the five modifiable
shelf sizes laid out and organized and stacked.
The labor of an hour, the sweat of the brow,
in hoisting the work upwards to the spot
along the wall opposite the newly acquired loveseat.
The care of organizing the poetry, The Odyssey first to go in,
Spenser of course alongside Sydney, and Plath, Pound.
And the whole thing wasn’t up for one minute
before I decided to give it a slight push to the right,
a gentle nudge to make way for a mirror to match the coffee table
when the bookcase made a sudden shift, the tradition on its shelves
in stubborn fixity, and the whole thing came tumbling,
shelf by shelf, nail by nail, Tennyson by Whitman by endless Dickenson.
You scolded me and laughed the sort of laugh you only laugh
amongst other company, after some brandy, an Allen film,
and I thought how much like each other we both had grown,
and, bleeding from a falling Eliot, I laughed with you, like Prufrock’s mermaids
singing each to each on those white-tipped waves, and I couldn’t
help but wonder if tonight we would lie some cause to the returns counter,
get another bookcase, start the whole thing over, or lie down instead
each on the other’s breast among the bent pages of Dante.

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