Fall 2010 / Issues / Poetry 2010 / Volume 41

It’s Like This — Robert Parham

I am at a party, control of which was eaten away at

least two hours ago, and, hell, I am the host, the guy

who should pull things in, keep them civil, only I’m

the one who ate away civility…

I yell at my ex-wife who is with a man

who used to be my best friend. They didn’t,

crash the party, but came, invited, in that way

someone gets invited and his or her guest ends

up

being a person you’d never have there, like you’d

invite all the ghouls of old unhappiness back to

torture you again, like some drooling drunk who

wants to suffer, and suffer, ad infinitum.

“Yours,”

I say to her, “Is a sadistic turn, coming here.”

She turns those brown eyes on me the way when we fought

she unnerved me into silence, and this time it didn’t work,

I build little rage into large, and the puddles of conversation

pool in rooms away from me and her…seeking insulation

while they drink my liquor and talk about us behind our walls,

I mean, MY walls. Oh, how they crumble and melt the moment

we think they are ours and crown them with a roof and put names

and numbers on the mailbox as though it were an insurance policy.

Some sports announcer used to sing “The Party’s Over”

which has a line “turn out the lights,” something like that.

That’s what I should have done, more like Ethel Merman

than like Don Meredith, but good ideas come from places

you could never imagine, so, anon, dear friend…

Return only with strangers bearing gifts.

O.K.

NO,

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