My mind walks into the room
wearing a threadbare tuxedo and top hat
with an air of infallibility.
His tall riding boots need re-soling
and he carries a chipped baton
that adds a patrician touch.
He sits down at the dining room table
because he wants to talk.
He's disappointed in me.
I haven't been thinking enough.
He snuffs a pinch of something from
a tiny box and tells his usual story
of how he overtook the mental facilities
of the lower forms to arrive
at his current dominant state.
This is his pedigree, he says,
glaring with watery red eyes,
and I am not showing him the proper respect.
There are blotches on his face
and one hand shakes lightly.
It's true that his fortunes have been better.
Years ago I would regularly
sit alone in the living room
for much of an afternoon and evening
to peer inward, to sort murk and shadows
into complex categories.
Those were his glory days.
Back then he drove a Fiat convertible
and dreamed of Maseratis.
His hair was permed
and he wore open collars
with gold chains tangling his chest hair.
Today he needs a shower
and a washing machine,
but I would never mention it,
and to make conversation
I ask if he recalls those old days,
but I know immediately
that I've made a mistake.
I've caused a paroxysm--
his face goes purple,
his mouth contorts in an ugly scar.
The poor thing, he's not sleeping enough,
he drinks too much coffee
and if he had ever started smoking,
he would never be able to quit.
I pull out a crossword puzzle
and start working it
to see if I can calm him down.
© 2003 Mark Giffin