Thursday, September 15, 2011

Making Believe

[This poem is best read in conversation with this song. I wrote it after listening to the story of how two of my professors (married to each other) met.]

Sometimes I make believe
I’m a grizzly bear:
eating slabs of pink-fleshed salmon,
napping in hopes of hibernation.

Other times I make believe my bed is a space ship
flying me through the milky-way to planet Soul Food
where consuming a breakfast of chicken-fried steak and gravy
is my coronation as king of the breakfast-gravy-galaxy.

Sometimes I like to pretend
the waitresses are actually flirting with me;
and if I asked them on a date they would
pretend to be busy until I thought of something
charming to say, and they’d say no;
but when they gave me the check they’d smile
and their number would be on the back.

When I catch my beautiful friends
stealing sideways glances, studying my expression,
I like to make believe they think I’m cute
with big-eyed grimaces, lip biting nods, and the like.

When I play basketball I make believe I’m Shawn Kemp—
the Reign Man, but not when he was with the Sonics,
when he was with the Blazers, and his knees were shot,
and he was eating his way out of the league, and could no longer jump.
My shots are rejected, and macho posturing ensues,
but I have fun.

Every once in a while I wake-up smiling
from a dream where we’re old
and you’re telling the story of how we met
to a group of youngsters—
the story familiar and practiced, with scripted interruptions.
We take turns wearing proud smirks and chuckling to ourselves
as we banter back and forth with feigned annoyance.

Sometimes I wish I could hibernate.

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