Cast Up On Another Dawn

by Eric Chaet

When I start to wake, bits of television shows appear
that I watched a minute then changed the channel
& girls at desks the first day I attended school
1950, everyone excited, looking at one another
new faces with names I’d never heard before—
sometimes, what I’ve experienced insists on priority
over what I’m trying to remember to do—
an old guy at a bus stop at a corner
I’d answered a want ad, had an appointment
yet another job interview, Los Angeles or Chicago—
snow or summer sunshine, I don’t remember
though I can’t remember when I had a better memory—
he bought me a cup of coffee & a pancake
& told me about his recent return to Russia
he’d come from there to the USA as a boy—
he was impressed by the free education & medical care
the USSR collapsed, & the education & health care—
so this was before 1990—
red & yellow oak, maple, & elm leaves on the sidewalk
autumn, teacher had me collect & label them—
boys tried to impress me & everyone with bravado
occasionally insisting on fighting with me—
a man behind a desk in an office
thru the window, roofs of Chicago skyscrapers—
his company’s ad offered to find me a high-paying job
but he wanted $10,000, he said
& when I asked where I was supposed to get $10,000
he said, “Get it from your father”—
& put his feet up on his desk
imagining he was who I hoped to be—
& a man I saw one night, through a window
electric light within, at a mirror, shaving—
I was on a bus traveling thru southern Illinois—
I have to digest even more than I’ve bitten off
I can’t just organize & sort & fail or succeed
however much plundering is now so routine
that the plunderers & plundered can see it no more
than fish can see the water they swim through—
the sky is suffused with light
I climb out of the bed, the night, the life so far—
like a shipwrecked sailor cast up on another dawn.


formidable but surmountable obstacles series


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