Poetry from Todd Boss

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ONE DAY THE DOCTOR TELLS YOU YOU’RE BLIND

 

to the truth. It’s physical; something about

the retina, rods, and cones. Truth is a wave-

length in the spectrum you’re unable to detect.

All your life you’ve been compensating,

convincing yourself you could see what you

could not. Suddenly you’ve got questions

about religion and politics and art, but what

you finally ask is about treatment. No, he says,

there’s little medical science can do. We know

it might be genetic; it’s likely one or another

of your parents can’t see the truth any better

than you. Also, we know this condition tends

to grow more acute with age. But frankly,

what doesn’t? he says, trying a smile. Well,

that does it, you think to yourself, as you

press the button in the elevator that will

drop you gently to the ground. Your wife

and kids were right all along, as were your

friends, who spent their lives dispensing

advice you repeatedly waved away. In a way,

it’s a relief, isn’t it. Now you can get down

to the business of apologizing, to everyone,

for what has been in fact an honest disability,

one that shouldn’t keep you from playing piano

or doing the things you would ordinarily do,

but which has gradually and progressively

made you the truthless husk of a man you

always knew, somehow, at your core, that you

are.

 

 

 

THE UPPER AND LOWER PECCADILLOES

 

One night he finds her

deep asleep, her arms

inexplicably cradling

the rotary mixer, its

cord snaking under

the comforter. Should

he tease it gently from

her, or leave them thus

combined? & what will

you do when you, too,

find a lover in alliance

with an appliance with

blades or beaters or a

chop setting? & how

soon stop forgetting?

Take it away, she may

end up sleepwalking

or rocking a swaddled

something resembling

the bread machine in the

swoon of a patio moon.

Nothing’s so strange it

can’t be stranger. If it

were me, I’d leave the

mixer be, as long as

nobody’s in any serious

danger. Don’t even wake

her. Let her awareness of

her particular weirdness

take her at its own speed,

meanwhile making what

it makes of dreams—

range upon range of stiff

cliffs of sweet creams—

the Upper & the Lower

Peccadilloes—whose

treacheries every man

treks, in the end, alone,

clutching what he can.

 

 

 

AND THEN ONE DAY IN A DEPARTMENT STORE

 

in a faraway city

it will come to you, the strains

of some Schumann or Chopin

you’d forgotten your father

used to fumble over all

those years before, and you’ll

 

realize—without quite

realizing it—how beautiful it is,

and that your father did well

to play it Sunday afternoon

after Sunday afternoon until

he’d pressed the limits

of his skills to its service,

 

and menswear will steadily

drift away as though it—not

you—were on the escalator,

and the third floor will come

gently to rest in the first and

vice versa, and somewhere in

housewares, or jewelry maybe,

 

as the last cascades of notes

come unstrung from memory

and melt into the past, you’ll

feel what he felt—or feel again

that familiar longing to learn—.

But it will be over too soon,

and there will be no return.

 

 

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These are some of the poems by Todd Boss featured in our Fall 2011 issue.

For ordering information or to find out more about the contents of this issue, click here.

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