(for Abraham Smith)
Like the way religion gets in the way
of the spiritual, and the habit
of honesty gets in the way of truth,
I have gotten in the way of myself.
I’ve slipped into solipsism when I
merely meant to speak about all of us;
I’ve risen up to the universal
when I simply meant to speak about
the Liberty Bell or a Philly cheesesteak.
I saw the cracked chime on a school trip in
’76 with my kindergarten class.
I scarfed down the sandwich at 2AM
on a bender after nights of vodka
and misgivings. Because the world seemed huge
and full of autumn, once, I almost prayed
again. I got to thinking about the self
and identity, how they’re shadowy
and rewriting themselves along the way.
How they’re their own alibi for being.
The snowy egret with its signature
pompadour and the hidden privileges
of a window with an open vista
are my seminals. Before it was
the language of blue jeans, the accoutrements
of smoke, embodying every word
I said, putting my body on the line.
Now I rarely ask for forgiveness.
Keep my sins for myself. I see no
undulations behind the sky. Trying to
get in touch with feelings, I seem to feel
indifferent most of the time. That’s why
I think I know there are gut-choices, bone-
choices, things the body know the mind has
to catch up to. If worse comes to worsen,
I don’t mind being a beautiful fake.
Oh, the solace and the suffering of
the imagination. I seem to have
this way of getting in the way of my self.
David Floyd was born in Philadelphia and currently teaches at Rutgers University-Camden and Temple University. His book-length manuscript The Sudden Architecture of the Dark was recently a finalist for the 2005 TampaReview Prize for Poetry and the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. He lives in Lansdowne, PA, and can be found reading poems by Jack Gilbert; Plato’s Republic, and Lauren Grodstein’s collection of short stories, The Best of Animals.