THE BLUE NETWORK
The Senator was drunk. Stifling air would hold fast
in the too small too large room. A nation in fear
he would hold it’s reins with authority but shaking;
the incompleteness of his completeness becoming
a weakened arrogance of a sterner power flying far away.
The eye of the world near him was a heavy box, grey,
slight steam rising above too bright lights and one man,
pushing the buttons and pointing now here now there
now into the realities of those who would watch
as natures predators flew outside, oblivious.
Sandra brought the man coffee, watched the sweat
of the Senator glisten, a light that truth can only hold
mocking his drunkenness like a shadow running fast
and away. She thought of her aunt from Germany coughing,
her little niece Micky, the world that the little one
might find herself fighting and winning as a daily balance.
The Senator muttered, slurred his importance,
dreamed of drink and a home in history’s humble hall
where he’d never mesh with the furniture.
It was a question of decency here, a failure of culture,
a wanting too greatly to grasp a moment
that could never belong to anyone.
Sandra marveled at the Technicolor. The young man
would not, cold war lust raging through this newly minted
adult, bursting as a too full balloon, he would wander
through the miles between his knee and Sandra’s.
The film was a road show picture, the wide screen
painted with colors artificial and beaming bright and Sandra,
awestruck, became part of every camera move, every nuance;
the dreams of the director becoming her own.
Splashed in the dark water of Burma, the prisoners
building the bridge for an enemy of one. Tapping her foot
she would mark the rhythm of every edit, each actor’s cue:
how one day she would do this, build a story from acetate parts,
hurried scripts and multiple moments repeated.
She could see the lights go up, dim and fade;
gels in place and the sound to speed she’d make
performers act and move in perfected balance,
or near so; an art manufactured with money and fame,
films would be her wings now, an opened cocoon,
she would fly over the patrons and laugh. The young man
was bored. He wasn’t getting laid tonight.
It was hot in the little box. The nervous man
knew what was expected, every question scripted with
proper answers and nervous stutters. Sandra held the script,
directing matching girls in perfect outfits. The men upstairs,
puppet master like, electrified the wires that would open
grey box eyes to a world of voyeurs, dreaming
too hard here’s where they belonged. The picture the box brought
came into their homes on artificial light too real and new.
The nervous man’s brilliance became their own;
lessons in school remembered not as a context
but as a siren song they could embrace without guilt.
No one knew what he knew. No one knew
what he didn’t know; his show of stammering intelligence
only a classical farce whose actors remember lines,
never proofed, never listened to. This song of ignorance,
a cacophony of ego without self, world without Earth,
brought to you by cosmetic dust and cigarette ash.
The “Applause” button is pushed with a sexual lust;
the response hoped for but never completely met.
Sandra motioned to the host, wrote his thoughts
on large cards cuing his offhand prepared comments.
It didn’t matter it was a lie; it was a lie
that could be believed, could be packaged and sold
like cigarettes, tonics, cosmetics, death.
Chicago air blew cold across the sanitarium. The cemetery adjacent
seemed to wait with the patience of many small trees whose leaves
fell too quickly with deafening passivity. Sandra held Micky’s hand
loosely, not wanting to hold her fast but like a kite
whose air fueled dips and turns cannot be altered below.
Consumption consumed Micky’s mother all too quickly now,
in gasping broken English and mended German she told her
teen aged child the available world is never
a complete picture. Snapshots of rivers and gaunt elms,
each broken, mended, broken further but somehow remembered
would fade away into dabs of grey where humans
once stood. Micky bristled at the alcove’s mounted butterflies;
a childhood trauma forgotten but ever present--bright wings
brought dark tears to her, each momentary life
splayed open and pinned to a board like
a promised kiss delivered by the wrong person. Micky
would be in Sandra’s care now, bringing with
old toys and new clothes, Micky would take her life
into another’s; her mother now bound to wheels and gasps.
The nurse took hold of the mother’s chair, drew her
to the sun room as its light disappears into darkness.
Snow began to build around the greystone block.
Foster Avenue trolley wires would click, spark, power
the gawkers in green behemoths passing the cameras and men
scared of questions and fumbling for their answers.
Sandra held the microphone aloft like a fisherman, waiting
to catch the nuanced truth in the official lie; the unexpected
expectations of honesty becoming a dance of fish
Sandra would try and fail to catch. Wind heavy and wet,
the young girl Lorriane would bring her coffee, agree
with Sandra the director took the shot too tight, too little
humanity in the picture. He ignored her; he
didn’t care for the voice of a tech in whispers doubting his
view of the real unreal scene. Police were stealing here;
homes, warehouses emptied of their fullness by those
who took trust as a liability, a bad penny to be passed
through the machine of human innocence, vending
the sadness of those to whom trust wasn’t
just a word to mix with others to fill the spaces.
The director became angry, Sandra became
a target for rage and his own ennui. He sent her
away. Two days later he was gone, the oven door
open like the paw of an aging tiger.
State & Rush meet at a point, a park of sorts, littered
with lost men who wonder where they’ve been, where life
would land one day & if they would be there to
greet it. Sandra and Lorriane crossed the park with worry,
quickly as if pursued mice with an unseen cat in tow.
The club’s lights streamed just ahead, the comic nervous
waiting for induction or heroin, either way
a plug to fill the emptiness he thought controlled him.
Their dates tagged behind, drunk, stuttering,
stumbling through their lives like beached fish flopping,
graping for something they would never feel.
They opened the club’s door as the four turned to one.
The comic smoked heavily, filling his lungs with gasps
of heat with a slight dash of light. He said the word:
cocksucker; all eyes opened wide, a hidden desire
became manifest in nervous twitters, their wishes secret
as they danced across the listeners minds. He said it again:
cocksucker. He was stopped this time, the law
would not allow this expression of secret guilt
and desire. No one laughed then.