Stacks by Pawel Grajnert

“Stacks upon stacks of warm bureaucrats,
Counting whatever is brought before them:
A universe of vaguely separate
Objects in need of sorting.”

The poet says out loud, sweating.

Above the treadmill the poet is on,
A face looks down. All talking.

About his potbelly
Full of doubtful certainties,
He plans for the job
They’ll pay him to do:

“‘Building Yesterday’s Rome
Today.’ The circumference of a legionnaire’s helmet
Finding that moral
Tie in to the legionnaire in some Nevadan bunker
Juiced up on Mountain Dew and Top Gun
Keeping the Republic safe in name only…”


The poet lifts a plastic bottle of water
And drinks. Just thinking about it.

As European as English.
Not a peep of Cherokee or Chippewa,

The poet, the bureaucrat
The seasoned trader, the cop with the club:
Kid ourselves about the price of freedom.

But that’s as it should be.
Illusions are real
As random as prepositions:
In my mind,
On a plane,
Over abundant.

Understood because they are.

All superstitions start this way.
Two things must be because
They happened twice at at the same time.
Or in a row. Is all it takes.

The poet was published twice.
The bureaucrat wasn’t.

Defined in this way
They toil along.
Engrooved as farmers with plows.
Driven by hunger, they are
hunters with weapons,

Though dull.

The poet showers.

The water is metered.
Some bureaucrat is safe.

The poet towels.

Not even the poet believes his hopes
At this point:
Bats, pterodactyls, butterflies.

They dry up like steam.

Back in his green Civic,
the poet drinks Diet Coke®
And wonders why he’s still fat.

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