David Berman

(4 January 1967 / Williamsburg, Virginia)

Governors On Sominex


It had been four days of no weather
as if nature had conceded its genius to the indoors.

They'd closed down the Bureau of Sad Endings
and my wife sat on the couch and read the paper out loud.

The evening edition carried the magic death of a child
backlit by a construction site sunrise on its front page.

I kept my back to her and fingered the items on the mantle.

Souvenirs only reminded you of buying them.

* * *

The moon hung solid over the boarded-up Hobby Shop.

P.K. was in the precinct house, using his one phone call
to dedicate a song to Tammy, for she was the light
by which he traveled into this and that

And out in the city, out in the wide readership,
his younger brother was kicking an ice bucket
in the woods behind the Marriott,

his younger brother who was missing that part of the brain
that allows you to make out with your pillow.

Poor kid.

It was the light in things that made them last.

* * *

Tammy called her caseworker from a closed gas station
to relay ideas unaligned with the world we loved.

The tall grass bent in the wind like tachometer needles
and he told her to hang in there, slowly repeating
the number of the Job Info Line.

She hung up and glared at the Killbuck Sweet Shoppe.
The words that had been running through her head,
"employees must wash hands before returning to work,"
kept repeating and the sky looked dead.

* * *

Hedges formed the long limousine a Tampa sky could die behind.
A sailor stood on the wharf with a clipper ship
reflected on the skin of the bell pepper he held.

He'd had mouthwash at the inn and could still feel
the ice blue carbon pinwheels spinning in his mouth.

There were no new ways to understand the world,
only new days to set our understandings against.

Through the lanes came virgins in tennis shoes,
their hair shining like videotape,

singing us into a kind of sleep we hadn't tried yet.

Each page was a new chance to understand the last.

And somehow the sea was always there to make you feel stupid.


Submitted by sallack

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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