Elena Ceauçescu's Bed
Making ourselves at home in that broad bed
Elena left, we slept snug as the mouse
That, burrowing in guest room blankets, fed
Her brood last winter in our summer house.
What bed, through all our lives long, had we known
If not the tyrant's? How many had been driven
Homeless and hungering while I had my own
Bed, my own room? How many have been given
Lives at hard labor while our markets rose
And we had all we asked for in the lands
Of milk and honey? Where could you find those
Who hunted, once, that hill where my house stands?
There'll be just one bed, too soon, for us all.
What empire's hacked out by the meek, the kind?
The lioness kills; the lion feasts; the small
Bury their noses in what's left behind.
in lane, out, veering
past eighteen-wheelers eighty-
five or ninety, reading
that true romance or new
true gospel propped right-angled
on your steering wheel along
this 8-lane turnpike to
some crucial contract meeting,
some catechism class, your grown
kid's high school graduation
or some far-off impatient
lover don't go fumbling
after maps or for your cell phone
for directions; such destinations
recede from you or crumble;
don't wave your free hand to
dry your nails or pull askew
the rearview mirror to repair
your lipstick, eye paint, hairdo
and even if your goal stands firm,
it isn't likely you'll arrive
at that Good Book's good juicy parts
in which he gets her and kind hearts
lap up virtue's wages;
nonetheless, those fixed pages
wait for you, unfaltering,
as carved stone slabs, and just so
we do our housework, homework,
to the tunes and credos of
Soap-Oprahland, make love,
make money or make war
to the half-forgotten morals from
film scripts whose musics hum
in our numbed skulls forevermore
and, while we're human, don't do
just what we do; this world's not what
this world's cracked up to be or what
we're cranked up and then cracked up for.
W. D. Snodgrass
Not for Specialists:
New and Selected Poems
BOA Editions, Ltd.
Copyright © 2006 by W. D. Snodgrass.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.