February 9, 2014

Thomas Dorsett

TEN THOUSAND MILES FROM IRAQ

Who ever heard of a trophy with wrinkles?
All right, I admit it, I’m on my third wife
but she’s no beauty, and almost my age.

Each of our children, of course, has failed,
but only according to Singapore standards.
Almost honest, we lie absolutely, that is,

“We’re true to ourselves”—If we try a deviation
down toward Evil or up toward Good,
shame and pride, respectively, bring us back

to where we live, between two realms—
(The ancient one’s called Thou Shalt Not,
the modern one, Anything Goes.) Almost dead,

almost living, with our original clothes
taken by fashion; exposed,
each of us remains a naked I, yet

adjectives half suit us: almost good,
almost bad. Sometimes we’re almost
joyful or desperate for a whole week

but that’s rare: mostly we mostly get by;
work is our heroin, sex is our love;
what more can one hope for these days?

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003