GHOST AT THE WINDOW
At the climax of 2001,
After the odyssey to Jupiter,
The ship's artificial intelligence
Failed in spectacular and murderous
Fashion, Dave the surviving astronaut
Sails in his suit through the cold vast of space
To a second-or third-rate motel room,
There to live out the balance of his days.
I think of Dave every now and again,
Sometimes through Kubrick's eyes, sometimes through Clarke's;
Of the unimaginably long trip,
The library of The Western Canon
No longer relevant to the lone man
Beyond the experience of his tribe,
No longer engaged in conversation.
A family in the late '70s
That rented out a cabin on our land
Had kept a cat for a couple of years,
Siamese, well muscled with bright blue eyes;
Really a magnificent animal.
When the irresponsible bastards left
With six months on their lease, two water bills
Unpaid, Gas and Electric threatening
Termination, to just let the pipes freeze
And maybe flood the cabin when they thawed,
Of course they left behind the Siamese
To hunt for his meals in the woods and fields.
Five years he was little more than a sound,
A Sandinista in forest defiles
Who yawled long against cicada rhythms
And padded through the thorny underbrush
On high alert for predators and prey,
Leaving bloody feathers in the clearing.
Those hippies had named him "Aquarius,"
But my little sister Martha and I
Christened him "Ghost."
Every now and again
We'd leave some tuna fish out on the porch
And stay up late to catch a glimpse of him
As an excuse to catch some soft core porn
On muted HBO or Cinemax,
Emmanuelle or Lady Chatterly.
I was a freshman at SUNY Alfred
When Martha found Ghost bleeding in the grass
And took him to the vet.
Our legendary prowler was haunting
The laundry room, on all fours more or less
But mostly sitting on the windowsill,
Indifferent to the sound of the washer
Even when my comforter went to "spin"
While squirrels capered safely in the yard.
Between classes, when I'm supposed to prep,
Sometimes I just stare at the parking lot
Through glass interwoven with chicken wire
At all those adolescents who regard
Quadratic equations and calculus
And teachers of said necessary tools
As dreaded impositions in their lives.
There are seven or so billion people
On this planet, so you'd think it'd be hard
To feel like a man trapped in a tin can
Hurtling through the outer solar system.
But I tell you that in the midst of class,
The PowerPoint projection on the wall
And the lights down on twenty shadowed heads,
I am a man untethered to the world
In any manner that creates meaning.
Jamie Bruno is the Producing Artistic Director of the Syracuse Shakespeare Festival. His work has appeared previously in Niederngasse.