in real life
One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead.
-- Oscar Wilde
I’ve been napping in my chair
and have wakened just in time.
Sleeping in the daytime sharpens me
for night life, as if it were my job
to get up and wet down my reeds
to play the clarinet in a small ensemble
where the first set doesn’t start till half past ten.
My nap was the color of a moss agate,
gray-green and striped, buffed to sheen
and sweat, the usual nightmares:
the house burns down with all my writing in it;
a famous and successful writer friend offers me her dregs:
Here, take these, I don’t need them anymore.
My editor ransacks my closets. His shirt is ripped off
by my faithful and beautiful, half-vicious dog.
In real life, I am planning a new career. I imagine
for myself a small congregation of gay Episcopalians
somewhere in the Midwest, in a town not known for
tolerance, but respectful, even a bit in awe of
anything that passes for style. I am their priest,
their good shepherd, and all my flock play
musical instruments and give amusing dinner parties.
Or, there is the life I seem to have imagined myself into
in which I am cleaning my reeds and shining my shoes
for the band that doesn’t exist, in the town I never lived in
playing the instrument I don’t know how to play.
from: Dear All, (forthcoming from Four Way Books, 2017)