Things being today
what they are, all my old things begin
to become mythy and massive—
my economist friend from Oxford,
I’ll tell the kids—or maybe
he’ll come visit and we’ll tell, in tandem,
the story of how he strangled Marx.
To have a fondness for what’s past—
like Woody Allen for Annie Hall, or me
for the Bodleian and the Firkin, mornings
on the river vomiting up beans on toast,
is a good thing if taken rarely,
like a dozen donuts bought and downed
on a Sunday-morning whim—then
it’s like when the wind brings
a sudden scent of sea
with no sea in sight.
But dwell overmuch
and it edges toward what
the old sea captains called Nostalgia
and Debility—an overripe August stink
that threatens to overwhelm
with its too muchness, a realm
of malignant growth, a pestilential
purple cabbage plant,
a garbage-fed mulberry tree
that leaves a fermenting carpet
of fly-wracked berries.
So these are my thoughts
with respect to returning
for my high school reunion.
But kept in check, forward momentum maintained,
with second sight I see a morning
years from now—though I may never
take a drink again, a cigarette
can always be snuck: we’ll recreate how,
in Berlin, we came upon a looming stone statue
of Engels, standing, and Marx, seated—and Kevin,
lover of capitalism, acolyte of Adam Smith,
managed just barely
to get his arms around the stone neck of Karl,
with a gleeful grimace on.
I’ve still got the picture.
He got that Marx sumbitch something good.