a traffic jam on a narrow two-lane highway headed
nowhere, unless Trouble has become an actual city overnight.
The last she knew, and that was back in the States, Trouble
City was a metaphor for emotions, was it not?, not places.
It’s a sign; it’s time; to return home. And turn my notebook
into a confidant who won’t betray me without hesitation
for her own gain, a moment’s moment doomed to become
a loss that will dog her heels to the grave. People.
Chained to routine like a dog to his vomit. Oblivious,
already in oblivion for lacking the foresight to see
what’s not in front of their eyes, what’s lacking from
the hearts they steeled against what makes them human,
soul and emotion that flew out once they signed on
to procedures guaranteed to keep them looking young.
I must be dumb. When a colleague, fellow
journalist—I hadn’t wanted to go to “rival”—said
I’d kill for your genes, I lost it. The tape was still
running after we’d gone off the air and after several more
hearings I caught the stress on “kill.”
Now I knew, whatever people used to say all the time
as part of an unquestioned accepted banter now meant
“I will do whatever it takes to get what I want.”
Blast of cold air; I shuddered. And while
I knew if the other side got wind of it
they would place the sentence underneath her cosmeticized face and that I,
not she, would be the one called to say—what?
Cover up her words as well as the face and other parts
she’s already covered over? If ever there were a no brainer
this—isn’t it. There’s a limit to the number of lies
a person’s lips can utter without losing more than her job.
And it rhymes, goddammit, it rhymes with lies.
The choice isn’t mine. The choice is life.
Per Contra Summer 2007