Wednesday, April 15, 2015

From Volume 35: A poem by B.J. Ward

B.J. Ward


Daily Grind



A man awakes every morning

and instead of reading the newspaper

reads Act V of Othello.

He sips his coffee and is content

that this is the news he needs

as his wife looks on helplessly.

The first week she thought it a phase,

his reading this and glaring at her throughout,

the first month an obsession,

the first year a quirkiness in his character,

and now it’s just normal behavior,

this mood setting in over the sliced bananas,

so she tries to make herself beautiful

to appease his drastic taste.

And every morning, as he shaves

the stubble from his face, he questions everything—

his employees, his best friend’s loyalty,

the women in his wife’s canasta club,

and most especially the wife herself

as she puts on lipstick in the mirror next to him

just before he leaves. This is how he begins

each day of his life—as he tightens the tie

around his neck, he remembers the ending,

goes over it word by word in his head,

the complex drama of his every morning

always unfolded on the kitchen table,

a secret Iago come to light with every sunrise

breaking through his window, the syllables

of betrayal and suicide always echoing

as he waits for his car pool, just under his lips

even as he pecks his wife goodbye.



from Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems, 1990 to 2013 (North Atlantic Books)

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