the lowercase god by Mark Fleckenstein
LAST PHOTOGRAPH OF MY DAYS AS AN IDEALIST
You urge me, after so many years of silence, to send you details about my occupations, about this "wonderful" world in which, you say, I am lucky enough to live and move and have my being. I might answer that I am a man without 16occupation, and that this world is not in the least wonderful.
—E.M. Cioran, “Letter To A Faraway Friend”
How far I have come to wish
to come home. This morning,
the first in twenty-three
exiled years, the white noise
of commerce eclipsed my only dream
of childhood: the dull boots
and swollen faces of bodies hang-
ing from streetlamps. Your letters
and wishes for my life here
arrive whitened by a belief
in this country like a trinket
of light perfect and invisible.
What has not changed and what
has are identical. 28 years earlier,
Chinese tanks and soldiers rolled
over students. Here whole families
sleep on sewer grates and barter
for whatever one might spare.
Yesterday, a pigeon appeared on
my desk and pecked at your letters.
My cat caught it in mid-flight.
The argument of its wings
surprised him into letting it go.
Publication Date: July 19, 2022