Today's poem is by Marty McConnell

the fidelity of disagreement

because there are seven kinds of loneliness
the receptionist keeps a basket of candy
by her desk. I keep my hair long
out of some poorly sublimated need

for tangible accomplishment. on Tuesdays,
the local crackhead calls me Miss America.
most afternoons, the jobless gather in pockets

to shout compliments to each other across Sheridan.
it sounds a great deal like seagulls calling
other seagulls over the lake, or more
accurately, around the raw ascending buildings

where they screech directions, one
to the other, headed for water that is not
the river, past the bridge and the Picasso,

over the heads of the unlisteners, headphones
tucked into our ear-beds, and this is the first
loneliness. in the dream, I pull away slowly,
and you stand there, very still. when I turn

the corner, you are still there, and the next,
still there in the rearview, then it's not a car at all
but a movie, you're in an airport in San

Francisco, on an ex-lover's couch
in Seattle, it's unseasonably cold
for October, even for Chicago.
there's too much room on the mattress

and your shoes sit panting in the closet.
what do I know about loneliness.
you're on your way home to me

and a kitchen where the overhead light
sighs into a dim, the spoons tuck
their worn faces away. it's best
to argue in person, so you can see

where to aim the knives. this is the third.
I don't know what I would name a child. four.
across the train, a grown man memorizes the pattern

of a girl's school uniform skirt. a shirt button
is about to come undone. he leans forward
in his seat, our traincar a compression chamber
draining. five, somebody says, you have

to show up early if you want to get
the chocolate.
I want to name this
something other than sorrow, tell you

I have a bird behind each knee. one
is always in a panic. the other, most often
asleep. I wish I could tell you that I know
what I'm doing. was I ever a woman

who could shave her head without flinching?
I was. this is the sixth. we have time
for mistakes. the men on the street orbit

the employment office in a set rotation
visible to none of them. what loneliness
is left? you have the most beautiful face.

Copyright © 2010 Marty McConnell All rights reserved
from Crab Orchard Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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