Five Dollars If You Can Guess Who I’m Talking About

Have you ever seen someone rumored to be dead?
Mumbling in a corridor, locked out of his office
again. Unaware of his ghostliness, still treating life
like a linear passage through square buildings.
I find relief in his life before me,
but there is a trapdoor in every human heart
where we hide to romanticize a beautiful life once lived.
—This is where I am when I watch people disembark
the heaving white ship.

Everyone has spent five days
sifting through the inner-debris, finding
The woman with ocean wavy
black hair has equally deep southern accent
and eyes.  She budges the sandwich line and we let her;
in this world no one will ever be denied
swiss cheese and turkey on sourdough.
The piano player has crooked white fingers
bending into the keys that promise Billy Joel
while the sun sets.  He traded his songbook
for Ray Charles replica sunglasses.
The waiter in his flimsy bow-tie, off kilter,
hurries on a graceful slant
to serve us filet mignon.

Our bodies all adjusted (medium) well
the disjointed, rhythmic scale of the ocean.

I will see these people years later
off the ship: one arguing with a cashier about
the sale price of shampoo; another shouting epithets
against the wind, chasing after a loose dream or dog;
the last under a tree with tangled leaves, sobbing
what course comes next?

I will think I recognize a sense of mercy in them,
worlds folding into each other, a blue-green symmetry
of united territory and memory.
But let’s not try to be too deep here
—I’ll remind myself,
the eternally unreliable narrator
always mistaking ghosts for people.


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