Today's poem is by Roy Jacobstein

If They Don't Have Ritalin in Heaven,

I guess I'll be up there with all of them,
      Allah, Krishna, Yahweh, God, speeding
            along, shooting the shit with the Hims,

asking Him and Him do they too love
      the names of these rivers the way I do,
            Irrawaddy, Orinoco, Limpopo, Snake,

the banyans & cottonwoods & teaks
      that overhang their banks, salmon & pike
            that teem beneath—& isn't it great how

piano in Papuan Pidgin is big black box
      with teeth you hit him he cry
, & even though
            the mosquito transmits malaria & dengue

& thus has vexed untold millions unto
      this day, & the spirochete causes yaws,
            aren't both elegant beings—the angel

winged tuning-fork vibrato of the former;
      the latter so sinuous & svelte & beguiling
            under the scope—& speaking of speeding,

what about that Audi Quattro, how it accelerates,
      0 to 60 in 5.3 seconds (though you're definitely
            playing dice with your life when you tool out

onto the Beltway into the morning rush,
      flitting between those minivans & cement
            mixers, 18-wheelers & SUVs), & if you stop

to think about it, what's the hurry anyway—
      the Times reports 97% of American workers
            say they'd quit their jobs in a trice if they hit

the lottery. (Me, I always play numbers
      3, 17, & 1789, in honor of Saint Patrick
            & of Voltaire, Rousseau, & the other lights

of the French Revolution, those philosophes
      sans whose Rights of Man we'd be spinning
            purposelessly atop the fragile tectonic plates

atop the hissing molten core.) I guess it'll take
      a week or two for me to get back to the Hims
            (nary a molecule of Ritalin lacing the cocktail

that is my blood), but when I finally arrive
      maybe I won't shoot the shit after all, not
            babble about the baobabs, the Monongahela,

maybe I'll just sit still there & regard
      the dread shape, the fearsome visage
            (cross between an Ayatollah & a Mather,

I imagine, proving the imagination
      is influenced unduly by the news media
            & by high school), & for the good of all

I'll stare into His remorseless eye & enquire
      if indeed the Existentialists had gotten it right,
            He'd created this world, then given it up, cast

His lot elsewhere, out there past
      the moons of Pluto, sick as He was
            of our whining & scribbling & warring—

though admit it, didn't He sometimes miss
      the water hyacinth floating swiftly along
            the Mekong after the rains, the ineffable

downward curve of the weeping willows,
      the intoxicating scent of jasmine at dusk,
            Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A Major,

& the dinosaurs.

Copyright © 2008 Roy Jacobstein All rights reserved
from Fuchsia in Cambodia
Triquarterly Books/Northwestern University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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