Tuesday, April 26, 2016

On Burning Your Tax Returns

National poetry month is practically over, and I've done nothing to move it along, celebrate it, or ponder its significance. And that's a shame. Why? Because life is poetry. Our days are improvisations, which are nothing more (nor less) than a series of poems we haven't written down yet.

I think of the moment we stepped into the Third Bird Restaurant the other day, where we had arranged to meet some friends. It's down on Loring Park, you enter by way of the alley, light shines in from the big front window though the back of the place looks and feels like a Spanish bodega. The music was "ethnic"—vaguely middle eastern but not in an annoying way. 

The wines were overpriced but the food was excellent. The five of us shared plates of grilled carrots and balsamic beets, gnocchi, sunflower-seed risotto, and glazed wood-fired chicken. I was reminded of the old Loring Bar, though the Third Bird is far more orderly and upscale. Something about the shadows, the relaxed hipness of the place, the unabashed pursuit of faux-patina, and the rubber-stamp images on the menu.

Later we wandered down the alley and across the street to watch a silent film about the trial of Joan of Arc, the impact of which was intensified by a full-blown choral accompaniment.

There was poetry in the air that night...perhaps less in the retelling. 

No, what one really must do during Poetry Month is write a poem. Here's mine:

On Burning Your Tax Returns
It sounds devious, almost criminal.
Maybe it is. But I'm talking here about the old ones
that you're no longer required to keep.
Perhaps it's not the most earth-friendly solution;
then again, has anyone calculated the environmental impact
of manufacturing, packaging, and shipping a shredder?
The past runs before your eyes as you toss the sheaves of paper into the flames.
You were working for that firm way back in 2006?
And you got that much for the book about that basketball player. Not bad!
The editor that left town, the proofer you no longer use, the publisher who died—
they're all there. But in fact, they've all moved on.
It was a long time ago, though it seems not, and it's weird to think
that this year is a lot like any other year--a stack
of forms smoldering on the grate, engulfed in smoke but
too dense to catch fire, except, perhaps, a little around the edges. 

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