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Friendship, call it that,
between a man and a fig tree.
For which he feels more responsible
than for any neighbour orange,
grapefruit, purported mandarin.
Merely friendship.
Neither will presume further,
to say, "I pray" one for the other.
People choke on acidic lemon gusts
from the incinerator. The fire could
have been aftermath, of polluted
cities. At evening
peacock moths struggled the curtains,
luminously stained but smoky.
Most of us, we are ramshackle.
The fig tree does not mind.
Some cats, too, may be thus patient
without thoroughly tolerating.
Pettiness, that is customary guilt
(or shame?) and trivia
which are fears’ commonplaces.
Thoreau: The mass of men lead lives
of quiet desperation. Or some such.
I have not travelled in concord.
If you recovered a lost language,
or learned how to make peace with rivers,
what difference? Bleakly one looks into flood
eddies which talk themselves out
to the estuary. Who may decipher
the face, the epigraph?
A man rarely attractive to women nears
a fortieth/fiftieth birthday in little
self-indulgent, self-dramatizing.
He shouts, "I mind! I mind!"
That a girl with breasts to which doves
like gestures of faith might condescend,
with thighs sparsely golden (of short hairs),
wood-ash grey eyes . . .
Catalogued, the immaterial, ephemera.
Witness her, in another plot.
Creature of mood, your story should be short,
must be. My life is longer
artlessly, not pliable to hers.
Familiar crisis, of non-entity.
Justly unaware, the girl does not reject.
If aware, indifferent that I should stand
for her, ludicrously tight-balled,
tight-assed, obscene, because
responsive. Father, grandfathers,
have I to thank you for anything?
                                                                         11. 3. 71
Editor's note
The Man who Wrote Short Stories : first published in The Dwarf With a Billiard Cue ; KS' note reads ‘As well as making his observation about the mass of men Thoreau said "I have travelled much in Concord"’
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