WEARY OF MODERNITY, THE GRAD STUDENTS DECIDE TO WRITE A POEM WHILE I GET DRUNK IN THE CORNER BOOTH AT MOLLOY’S
But it mustn’t allude to modernity, they agreed,
not even obliquely. It must, however, be
subtle and fierce. Like the zoo on a rainy Tuesday.
It must cash in. It must offer terrain
and a sense of bewilderment,
if not abandon. Over multiple lagers,
tiger-gold, I imagined machines and Ezra Pound
clutching a mouse by its tail.
Sally Peterson was beautiful.
Johnny Galga was sitting on her lap.
It was 1951, and no one cared about the world
except them. You must remember,
there was no Derrida and everyone thought
Ike was joking most of the time.
How’s this for an opening line?
said Galga. “The rock rests till it’s enveloped /
by light.” Sally thought it captured something—
some war of the innate, some clash
they were privy to that required
further articulation. The bartender was bored.
It was a Tuesday and nothing hummed,
and I pondered my usual walk home
past the West Street Cemetery
in the snow that had begun to fall.
I didn’t like them, these students
for whom meanness was a given and oddness
its only refuge. I folded my napkin
into an F-51 and dropped imaginary bombs
over Korea. I went to the men’s room
and studied my face in the smeared-up mirror.
I thought grad school would be spectacular
and frantic, full of Hemingway souls
and trout in distant streams. I thought
we’d memorize Proust and pursue the idea
that books give back the world in purple
and gold lamé. That night at home, I ate
tomato soup from a can and watched the snow
fall indistinctly on the parking lot, the porch,
the grass where months before I believed
myself to be, at last, a kind of hero.
Author Bio: Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (The Nasiona Press, 2019). His writing has appeared in many journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University.