Almost Mayday

The supreme value is not the future but the present. The future is a deceitful time that always says to us, “Not yet,” and thus denies us. The future is not the time of love: what man truly wants he wants now.
   -Octavio Paz

Irritation can be walking up 6th Avenue and finding two perfectly balanced lines in the rhythm of your steps. Not asking for them, wanting them, but there they be, like two gorgeous piglets all pink and impossible to just go ahead and kill.

You notice, in the quiet forebrain, a relatively well-dressed Asian woman standing against a wall’s corner who is holding two patent leather pumps and clicking their heels together. You see her bare feet both swollen to a palette’s color, and you wonder about her story, but your perfect couplet continues inside.

A man bumps into you, hurrying to beat the Don’t Walk sign, he makes an ouff-ing sound and tumbles forward anyhow.

Your hip hurts a little. You catch sight of yourself in the glass of an angled shop-window. Your bonedry head all flattened down.

You flick a cigarette into the gutter and, at the same time, a delivery man spits from his truck window, his mouth’s little water arriving perfectly to extinguish your dog-end.

You marvel at the physics involved, but, separately, you don’t forget.

At last, into the building’s lobby, you’re hurrying as the elevator man holds back the door. You walk in, repeating silently, and amongst the passengers is a girl you know.

You’re safe, she’s wearing headphones. You smile distantly, turn back towards the closed doors, still remembering.

A man moves past you to exit at a lower floor, your sandwich bag is precarious, almost upturned, not that you know it. You clasp its inverted handle tighter, the better to disguise its Perfect Cosmetics logo, but two sandwiches tumble out, one of which settles upon a woman’s shoe (she appears to have perfect feet).

The girl behind you giggles, you grapple down, make a funny word or two in coverage, and of course “A yarmulke and a stovepipe hat, both worn with fellow feeling….” is all that’s left. A sentence pointless without its other.

[April, 1992]