grand re-opening of the nostalgia factory shut down for dangerous working conditions (it’s my birthday)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
It’s my birthday and I don’t want to go anywhere
with you. Two years ago
someone proposed to me on this day, saying
I want to get civil unioned with you
and I, fool, agreed. It was a lovely last grab
for a tree as the car we were driving
sped over the ravine. At the grand re-opening
of the nostalgia factory shut down
for dangerous working conditions, I wield
the giant scissors with ease. The caution tape
gives way and the workers return
to their stations. Here, the family footage
on silent 8 millimeter film of my fifth
birthday, a picnic in a park, a table laden
with gifts, I lean over the cake
and blow out the candles. Everyone
disappears. An accident
of editing, and exactly how I remember it
now. Presents, cake, everybody gone
but me and the empty
table. Clean. I’m the mayor
of Nostalgia City, where the factory
is located. The spiders
in the corners have been here
for generations. Every morning
I greet each one, saying Carl, how’s
the family, Judy, how’s the leg,
the bum knee, I promise
them things. A greater abundance
of clumsy flies, less dust
from the machines. I hate my job
but it’s a living. It’s
my birthday and I didn’t invite
to my party the woman who lives just
across town, who sixteen
years ago took me to my first Pride Parade
the day after my birthday the night of which
we’d had a party where apparently
everyone but me was on ecstacy and she didn’t sleep
with me even though we were dating. I miss her daughter
but not the blackout drinking.
The factory is in full swing, the pistons
and fleshers lisping their oily tunes. Nobody
catches a hand in the gears or faints
into the boiler. We’re together again, that’s
what matters. The city’s top employer
is back, I’m the mayor
and I know what’s best for us. The heat
is extraordinary, the workers
are beaming, the sweat
rolling off them in luminous
sheets, glycerin and film development
chemicals, slices of uneaten
wedding cake, fabric from the back seat
of the van where I abandoned my body
for the first time
to a man who became a liar and then
a Marine, Aimee’s soft guitar, the lost ring, last
year, Munich, Berlin, music
in a parking lot, a circus, the impossible
mouth, how she shook when I put my hand
in her back pocket, yes,
darling, I remember everything. I’m kind
of a big deal in this town
and it’s best
if you stay far, far away.




Wednesday, January 15, 2014