Water Now

I
I have torn the idols off of the walls
And dropped them in a pile in front of you
You rubbed my face in them
One time too many and now they’re gone
The one or two that remain will shrivel up and die
Then I can rub your face with them
Like I have rubbed your face in the past
And when the operator puts me through to God
I will wait on the line in that parking lot phone booth
Because I have plenty to say to Him
It will take more quarters than I have
But maybe I will be able to reverse the charges
Maybe I can get Him to pay for the call
I am sure that when he sees the piles
Laying on the floor around me
He will take me into his massive heart
And pay for the call and talk to me all night long

II
I have watched the last cigarette burn away
Like a Westside tenement insurance fire
Blazing upward toward the thick dark sky
Little children crying – clinging to mother’s rib cage
Legs wrapped around mother’s waist like a belt
No Christmas for these little muffins this year
No celebrity clean-up crews to shovel through the debris
From Cicero Avenue all the way to Pulaski and beyond
No one even notices what happened here today
No one hangs their head for a moment in silent prayer
There’s too much going on for anyone to consume
So they walk slowly from street to fear filled street
Burning their cigarettes letting the smoke carry them away
Up into heaven with their big glassy red eyes
Walking now among the clouds in their heavy black shoes
Their voices silenced and their hands jammed into their pockets
Their cigarettes are all gone now and the 7-11 is closed

III
I have watched the last of the children leave
Slamming the big oak door behind them
A thin handful of snowflakes scurry in – only to die
And you put your love face on for me
But I just want to sit in my big chair
And look out over the pure white winter grass
The big red plastic sled leaving tracks in the snow
They will search for Kilimanjaro
Only to be seduced like Hemingway was
You bring your love face to me and put it in my hands
I pretend not to notice but still you won’t leave
So I take you into my big hairless arms
And I take your weight into my lap where it is safe
My mind is with the children on their journey
The dogs are curled up and sleeping under my chair

IV
She asked me who I was writing for
I told her it was my generation
She didn’t like my answer very much
Your generation doesn’t care she implied
You’re right I returned sadly
The ones who do care can hardly read
She laughed out loud right in our faces
But we knew that she was right this time
Her all-knowing self-righteous generation
With all of their sanctimonious soft-soap politics
They never had anyone to challenge their voices
Theirs was a time when prophets came forth
From the little towns and cities and they spoke out loud
And no one challenged what they had to say
The gypsy-prophet-minstrels that decried the right
My generation is throw away fast food wrapper people
As useful as that one brown shoe that we saw on Rte. 53

V
I have watched the last fire die out before me
All of the piles of all of the idols are ashes now
I have no place to rub your sad tired soul
I see that you have finally put that love face back into the closet
My generation is still reeling from that 12-year itch
But they really have no excuses anymore
I tried calling God one final time
But the number was no longer in service
What I got was a buzzing noise in my ear
And a set of “crown of thorns” serving plates
The Westside children who missed Christmas
Will find them under the tree at the mission
Or maybe on Lower Wacker Drive – Emerald City
The lucky children have returned from the journey
Their red plastic sled is cracked and dented along one side
Their little red noses are runny and cold like the dogs’
And the snowflakes in the hall have all died water now – water now

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