the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Fall 2007



Robert Dunn

Agra Culture, or, Commuting to Calcutta

Every time I call some
Friendly neighborhood
Technical support line,
I find myself talking to India.

It takes only 20 seconds
To place the call; and only
Three hours before they
Understand what I want.

Someday, I expect to wake up
With an 107-degree temperature,
Only to find that my family physician’s
Office is now in Benares—

And so are all the hospitals.
No wonder the ambulance rides
Seem so long these days!
Pass the aspirin, somebody ...

Halluci-notion #17: The Right Man for the Right Job

Last night I dreamed
That New York City
Civil Service puppeteers
Made larger starting salaries
Than Police Academy graduates.
Of course, the Police Academy graduates
Have guns—
Then I heard a voices demanding
"Step away from the marionette!"
"Let the puppet go!"
When I didn’t respond in time,
The firefight was fearsome–. . .

When I awoke, I discovered
That all my strings had been cut,
And there were 41 bullet holes
In my headboard.


This morning, just before dawn, while lying
Alone in my double bed, I achieved ...

Equilibrium ...

For a few precious seconds.
No pain, no anxieties, no strident demands,
No lumps in the mattresses ...

Just the perfect peace of mind and body
Brought on, in part, by staring
At the quiet darkness.
Plus, I suppose, all that ridiculous
Brown rice finally paid off.
No birds, bees, bugs, beer belches.
Even my nutty neighbors had finally
Turned off their television for five minutes.
Nirvana got nothing on this, friends.

Now, some people achieve this state
By slipping Librium into their Equal.
But I achieved it naturally ...

But then, perhaps I didn’t really achieve it
. Perhaps it was the accidental gift
Of some Higher Power who suddenly
Ran out of cosmic itch powder, joy buzzers,

And whoopee cushions for a moment,
Which led me to conclude that Equilibrium,
Although perfect, is still all wrong.

Unnatural, somehow, if you take my meaning.

So I tapped my radio, and immediately got
A news report about a man who spray-
Painted passionate political protest slogans
All over his ex-wife and kids, then
Express-mailed them to his ex-in-laws
(One of whom is a U.S. Congressman).

Then I knew, once again,
That all was right with the world,
And we were back in business...

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