Grepsy Tarbox worried
About waking up sleepy every morning,
About life being same old, same old,
That maybe she’d seen it all before
And the rest was all rehash.
What kept her going was a 20-year obsession…
A problem she worked on every day…
Without finding the tripwire to its secrets.
One day at the end of her rope,
She tied a Gordian Knot around the obsession…
One end bound in intertwined complexity,
The other in a simple half-hitch
Looped through a taxicab door handle,
Hoping a tire-squealing start from a red light
Would haul it away forever.
But then she suffered
Acute separation anxiety,
Having lived with it so long.
She anticipated her obsessional loss
And had made a carbon copy of it,
Which allowed her to go back
To waking up sleepy,
And feeling life was same old,
Austin “Nimble-Fingers” Foresman
A prodigy page turner
For concert pianists,
Tried to be nearly invisible,
As he riffled pages of sheet music
Between thumb and forefinger,
Isolating the next page to turn.
He’d track the last note bottom right,
Then flip the page just in time
To reveal the first note top left,
Without causing the slightest break
In the soloist’s concentration.
But it was Foresman’s fate one night
To flip three pages at once,
Leaving a prominent pianist lost,
Thirty bars ahead of the orchestra.
To turn back two pages,
Foresman riffled in panic
And turned back four.
The pianist tried pulling the notes from memory,
It is known in page turning circles
As the “Foresman Flub”,
The greatest faux pas
In page turning history.
Each hairbreadth of mine
Was lost in a density of hairbreadths,
Anonymous as cornstalks
In an Iowa cornfield.
Now each hairbreadth of mine
Is at least a thousand hairbreadths away
From its nearest hairbreadth neighbor…
Like rural farmhouses
That get farther and farther away
And the farms, as well, ripple away
Down narrower roads.
And soon we run out of farmhouses
And the land is as naked
As a vacant moonscape.
Asked Feinsod of Pester,
Two zoology Ph.Ds,
Hip-deep in a nighttime swamp,
Looking for Mary River Turtles,
Amidst the venomous, toothy beasts
In Nature’s inventory.
Shouted Pester…no reply.
Well, I hope he’s okay,
Said Feinsod with muted solicitude,
Or at least that his notebooks float…
I’d hate to lose his research, too.
All in all, I’d say
He was good company,
Wouldn’t you agree, Pester?
Oh, come on Pester,
Enough zoology humor.
But there was only a menacing ripple
In the quiet of the swamp.
Tobin Chains was living on borrowed time.
He had some time of his own…
As far as he could tell…
But didn’t want to use it up.
So he borrowed time.
But the time he borrowed was up
And his own time started running again.
He called Borrowed Time Merchants,
But they were out of good domestic borrowed time
And didn’t have a firm restocking date.
We have a bit of imported borrowed time,
But, frankly, it lacks quality.
Won’t it do in a pinch, asked Chains.
Maybe, but it usually has to be supplemented
By some of your time,
Since it lacks quality time and party time and quiet time…
See what I mean?
So, I’d wait for our best domestic borrowed time
To come back in,
If, of course,
You’ve got the time.
Some like meat well-charred,
And some, uncooked, tartare.
But tartare can’t be spiced enough
In marinade of piquant stuff
To cover up its basic flaw…
It’s eaten raw.
Dust is the bond between social classes…
The elegant monied and the masses.
It collects on everyone’s things indoors,
The priceless armoires of Louis Quatorze,
Or the simple goods of the bourgeoisie.
It piles up even at Sotheby’s.
Dust motes surely beget with lust,
Since everything is covered with dust.
The difference is that Louis Quatorze
Had dusters in all his corridors,
While our more modest, but dusty, shelves
Are dusted less often and by ourselves.
As frigid snow swirls all about me
And cold breath puffs from my mouth,
I sit here warming my hands and my feet,
Wondering why geese and not me
Father Bunshaft swung the censer,
Burning incense, down the aisle,
But stepped on the hem of his robe
That he suddenly realized wasn’t his,
But Father Mulcahy’s.
Ten inches taller than he, himself.
So careful as a bride
He cast down his eyes to avoid the hem,
But veered to close to the right side pews
And, heedless, swinging too far right,
The censer grazed Mrs. Graybill’s cheek.
And reflexively, he yanked it left,
Gashing Mr. Snowdon on the sniffer.
But not to worry
The censer, white hot,
Cut and cauterized all at once.
Had Mr. Snowdon not fainted, though,
And the widow Graybill not tended to him,
They might never have met…and married…
Once the bandages finally came off.
Joey Spatula, a chef of egg salad simplicity,
Didn’t know a tamale from crème brulee,
But nonetheless wished for Michelin renown.
So he hung in the window of his luncheonette
A Michelin tire…
Like roasted window ducks in Chinatown…
And placed a Michelin sign beside it.
But guilt became the mother of mutation,
When he discovered Escoffier online
And replaced his baseball cap
With the souffle puff of a chef’s hat
And learned to make
Tripe and trout and goose pate,
Coq au vin and cassoulet,
Then changed Joey’s Luncheonette
To the Ivory Spatula,
Took the tire from the window
And waited to be discovered.