Today's poem is by Claire Sylvester Smith

As a Spleen

So much must go right in order for us to drive
cars every day and not die. The wind has to not blow
so hard as to drop the regulatory lights on top
of us, the other drivers must maintain decorum,
we must remain stalwart and refuse to succumb
to the intoxicating ecstasy of speed. If given the choice
of one weapon, I would take the aforementioned
car—it is both projectile and shield, plus then
you get a radio. Gentlemen, start your engines. Ladies,
start backing away. Or, drive, or, hide
in the backseat with a hatchet and hold
hostage any half-hearted attempts to flee. Engines,
start your engines. Let your wheels drift from this
to that side of the road. That everyone speeds
has become its own rule, so there must be
some new pleasure found in breaking it,
like broken bones as trophies, like stacked
participation ribbons with a tiny image on them
of a person or a ball corresponding to whatever you've just
accomplished by existing where you paid
to exist. A woman on the radio said, there are always
two sides to science
, which made me want to say, about
something unrelated, on the other hand,
without ever acknowledging its mate.
I'd prefer if we referred to sadness as a spleen.
1748, La Mettrie argued man was a machine
and then was exiled, but how can we say he isn't
the best appliance for making manliness manifest?
Watch the steam of purpose go escaping from
his ears. See what a chest is made up of. I knew a man
was good once because his blinker was broken
so that it would not stay in the "on" position, but
he manually imitated the rhythm and repetition
of a blinker in the "on" position nonetheless. In
buildings now, it's common to expose your vents
and beams. I like to know they're there, but
am partial to the brands of accidental truth, as in,
the window well just visible in the picture
of a moose lying ten feet from the road.

Copyright © 2014 Claire Sylvester Smith All rights reserved
from The Southeast Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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