The Privilege of Defecating

A Poem

By KG Newman


I’d forgotten how to smile after winning until I realized I could buy
Bill Gates’ optimism, and I imagined the transaction going down in his
ladder-filled library. He’d admit my history book would sit on a lot of shelves.
He’d add that half of gaining gratitude is listening to him riff: It’s either a pit
in the ground or a multi-million-dollar treatment plant, and neither works.
He’d point out I can’t worry about my ply if I’m reinventing the toilet.
He’d noticed I notice he always has a book bag. He’d say his game is tennis,
sometimes swimming. He wouldn’t let me leave the estate without understanding
he also gets speeding tickets, and was wrecked by his grandfather’s death.

The Revised Vow
All fall I’ve lied to myself
that it’s still summer
until the first snow came,
unexpectedly, on October 10th.
Hearing about particular closures
on the radio, I realize
I’ve been mispronouncing
important downtown streets
my entire life, and my wife argues
we should take that as a sign
to leave.

In denial, I grip a boiling pot barehanded
and carry it outside into the whirring white.
I throw the water into the still air and it surrenders
before it hits the ground.

I want to put a quarter in her
and smash the sadness we carry every day
in our pockets. I welcome new wounds raw
like the dwindling sun on my skin, and it’s true
I don’t want tattoos because
I lack conviction. I’ve failed at walking
the life line between classical and jazz;
instead my post-work footsteps
echo dissonance down the dark upstairs hall.

At least the brick retaining wall
increased the value of the house.
The remaining mortar we had to burn.
Save it is only said now
as a means to be mean around here.
The revised vow is to be buried
with a fistful of clarity.