'I am Not a Capricorn'

Greg Gerke

          I'm in high school and the brains who one would think quite dull are writing some exquisite verse.   I read it and want to bend my teeth back.   Matt has taken the word ‘Huron' and turned it into an adjective.   And Thomas' poem about stuffing moosepelt comes out of what experience exactly?   His father championed Reagan so he did.   He played soccer.   He had height and a nice blond coiffure.   The girls from St. Bonaventure liked that, plus the fact of a car and clean, original skin.

          I would like there to be no other side to this dream.   You could say it comes from English class—Please compare and contrast the characters of Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby.   What motivates them?   How does money play a part in their world views?   How do they treat women?    Why weren't the students the ones asking questions?   I can remember asking our history teacher Mr. Zolecki if the Germans knew the Japanese were gunning over the Pacific for Hawaii.   I don't recall the answer.   And even now it isn't too important that I need to find out.   The voice says be creative.   Be the skeptics' worst nightmare.   Put on your shoes and find the old mill road.   Follow it west, follow it off the map.

          If Thomas heard me talking like this today he might not bat an eye.   But I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong, if, if.   He could be a relief pitcher in the minor leagues, one more season and his arm will be shot, but look at that money.   Or maybe he didn't like the new set of promotions and demotions at the chemical company, came home and launched a round into his son's head as the boy kneeled over his Tonka trucks.   Then the wife.   Then you know who.   I highly doubt both scenarios.   I believe Thomas is safe and happy.   He likes one brand of coffee and is routinely celebrated for his advances in medical technology.   Actually that one is just as dramatic.   Can't I leave him alone?   I must start running and swimming more.   Hopefully an abeyance of memory will follow.   Follow, follow, follow…

          Pop quiz.   Who makes more jokes, the poor in spirit or the poor in the pocket?

          Coming out of the same subway at around two in the winter, a sheer of light hits me just as I reach the top steps.   Simple, yet strong.   Like a great kiss.   I could swoon.   I probably do.   Often it's the highlight for me.   A reminder of what is, since along the way there is also a slew of concrete and dissolute truths and half-truths that find their way down my drain.   But at your age?

          Yes.   It will be another six years before I dream Thomas again.   Today I wish him the best and to be in a bed of his own choosing.

          Before my bedtime tonight I will ring out the comforter decorated with Pre-Raphaelite foxgloves and baby's breath.   The bad spirits can't descend on someone swaddled in the throes of nature even if they are just representation.   I was born near the mint fields and have two diplomas in a portmanteau near Cobble Hill.   My demons don't quibble with me.   Because they've been invited, they tend to knicker about rather than line up enfilade.   It's the relationship I'm most proud of.   Tension low-grade, like the hum of a bulb in a socket.   The same wattage I use to get to a novel's end when the sun is away.