you had to be there.
        and if you are there
        tell yourself how it was.
        and if you were there
        tell yourself how you are.
        like the smell of cedars.
        that don't make me southern.
        but this all prob'ly does.
        then you go ahead
        and tell us why they called
        him Calvin the Abolitionist.
        or, why when you were there,
        he was here today calling himself
        an "oblitionist."  folks is
        like that.  one day
        you're up in the cedar trees
        or spreading cedar chips
        for a company called "We
        Spread Cedar."  next
        minute you're a goddam oblitionist
        oblitioning all over Nebraska.
        remind you to tell yourself
        who that was up there.
        meanwhile you don't even
        have an oblitionist's license 
        (Where you think this is, New
        Jersey or someplace?). you
        had to be there by 5
        and, needless to say,
        it's always at least 6 now.
        the darkness makes the glass
        door a crummy mirror.
        like the kind you don't get
        in a bathroom with lights.
        in a bathroom with lights
        you're trying to scrub cedar off
        your hands.  in front of a
        a crummy mirror you cannot squeeze
        an oblitionist's license out        
        of a liquid soap dispenser.
        maybe forget the whole thing.
        buy yourself a nice dress
        and join the service.  you know,
        back when you used to
        play "the cosmonaut and the
        carpetbagger."  as you are, gentleman.
        inside some guy is saying
        in sign language, "We're closed!"
        or, "Oblitionists need not apply."

The East Village Poetry Web
Michael Magee