The Dread Museum

The Dread Museum

The Dread Museum

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Dec. 29 1999 3:30 AM

The Dread Museum

Another plane, flames inside, gone down--
Fundamentalist genius for terror, or just
An apolitical mechanical malfunction,
No one knows. Not the aeronautics
Or explosive experts; not the anchors
Paid too much to tell us; and most
Terribly, not the relatives who watch
On Time switch to Canceled on the monitors.

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Maybe it was too much picturing--
The sheared wing thrust from the sea,
Torsos afloat like hand puppets in a tub,
The grim business of the divers, nosing through
The ribs of Business and Coach--that brought on
This nosebleed hampering me all morning.
Can't bend, can't yawn, can't make a face
Without my nostril-wad of Kleenex reddening.

Amazing--isn't it?--how one swerves
From pity for bodies and body parts to hordes
Of corpuscles and antibodies surging.
Should I be ashamed? I'm not. And I'm not
That I'm elated that I'm not, once again,
The relative reaching over the butcherblock
For the telephone, and in that lurch
Having the notion common to us all--
Now's my time to pay for pleasure--
Prove true.

              Oh, I could weep
Out of frustration for my nose, and may.
I'll put my head back, daub a few last drops
On another bloody lucky day, and dwell
On the wheels, on the spokes of the wheels,
Of my daughter's tricycle, while someone
Whom I'll never meet and care about
As much as care imagined can, tears out
The front-page photo of a size-4 Nike
Washed ashore, because he knows
He knows the shoe.

Steven Cramer's fifth collection, Clangings, will be published in 2012. He directs the low-residency MFA creative writing program at Lesley University.