Eulogy of the Rain

Sean Thomas Dougherty

            “polis is this” Charles Olsen

What does it mean to spit in the face of the plastic virgin on the street corner shrine? To think about the contradictions of this town, latticed bridgework outside the refinery where men frail into their own hands. To die at the dye-works? All the ghosts. What held them together? They were drafted, Joanne the bartender at Milachevskis tells me, nodding at a group of men in their sixties arguing, old welders long laid off. The metaphysics of their slumped shoulders, blue collared is the space of their breathing. I want to know where it went one says — touching his friend — turns takes his own head, and mumbles, I’m done. But his friend orders another round. Fragments of a conversation, the not telling, it means? Our own self held by the other’s face? What is that isn’t self portrait? That is what is impossible for the critics to understand, in the end the explanation is its own failure. It was the philosophers who wanted to rule. They never reckoned to be the polis one must drown in the currents of its streets — the call of the idiot on the corner chirping like a sparrow, the asthmatic brother coughing while waving his crutch, the barefoot girl jumping hop scotch on the sidewalk outside of the funeral parlor on 10th street where someone is shouting, Shadrack arguing with a parking meter, a child’s shoe like a bad omen — obituaries taint my skin like the light from bar signs, enter my eyes like credits on a movie screen. But do not workshop what the act of worship should be. When I was out walking away from myself and most alone on the East Side above the refinery and the dirty bay the dark sky thundered. I looked down, down at the dirt lot to find this eulogy being scribbled by the pencils of the rain —

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