Poetry: It’s Never Too Early for a Clean Slate | clivejames.com
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It’s Never Too Early for a Clean Slate

I’m blinking in the blank white light off the blinding sheets.
The voice beside my head has seen more of the world already
and it’s not even 7. She reassures me like a baby,
but I’m 42 if I’m a day, and I need to hear the forecast,
which I still haven’t learned has nothing to do with the weather.

The next 12 hours are playing like a film on the bathroom mirror.
I’m the atheist at the baptism, looking forward to lamb chops:
I merely survey the experience; my heart’s not in it.
When I release my grip the living end reverses into the tube.

And here is my first tall cup. It scalds
my gums, the parapets and vaults of my mouth,
and you’re talking to me in the native tongue
which was my own once, set like type,
or handprints in cement, as near second nature as Mother Nature,
but today I can’t make heads nor tails of anything you’re saying,
although I remain convinced if only I would try a little harder,
apply myself with more stick-to-itiveness,
I’ll be able to save you, or be myself saved,
from what, from the look in your eyes, is
some not-so-new or even unforeseeable disaster.
But then I realize I can’t even hear myself think,
that I’d need earplugs and a pneumatic drill
just to get through the words. And even your eyes
don’t hear me when, out of time, ideas and desperation,
I semaphore in my own dead language, remembering my father
telling me never to fall in love with a foreigner
or in the middle of the night he’d curse me.

But it’s only first thing in the morning,
and not the first time, by my troth,
I’ve failed to seize (let alone shuck) a pearl of wisdom
cast like an aspersion before me and time to go,
so I wave goodbye, which I see is an ambiguous
as well as an ambidextrous gesture. But at the same time
I also can’t see. And what choice do I have?
I don’t have two right hands, and we’re at the crossroads
of the breakfast table – the coast being clear, the toast being cold –
and I unbolt the chain, let slip the wards of God,
(or Whoever it is Whose gates these are) and,
tossing precaution and my only set of keys into the hedge,
I notice that it really isn’t too early yet,
and I’m brimming with hope, which has its disadvantages.