The Arcade Room

long ago
I remember a rather good poet
a very good poet
who said something about them
leaving the air signed with their
honor.

when I read the poem
I believed it.
I was younger,
much, and working in factories
among these that I considered lesser men
than those.

now somehow
I have gotten out of the factories
and I have met
them:
shriveled grandmas of men
sitting in warm rooms and knitting
inconsistencies into
Art and
bitching
gnawing,
clawing.   I’ve understood their wails
against death and dullness,
commercialism,
and dripping sperm upon the coin slot
of the movie machine in the
arcade room,
but there was no way I could have guessed at
these promenading ninnies
of educated finesse and gesture, most
powerful in word-tone and arrangement;
skilled, precise, indented,
firey, even sometimes
amusing, often knowledgeable; bone-hard, mercurial
yet accurate,
I have met them in their rooms and
in their palaces and in their
streets, and
I saw tiny frightened men,
bitches
mothers’ boys,
winterbourn flies, westernly-
windblown
gnats
tiny tiny tiny tiny
I saw them in their streets
and sitting in their chairs
talking to me

and so I say
after all these years, no,
they haven’t left it signed with their honor
but rather:
tiny tiny tiny tiny

it just doesn’t work;
I’m sorry, Stephen,
it was an interesting poem
but we’re just going to have to wait
a bit longer.