Monday, 4/30

I meant what I said: I am going back to prose in the morning.

But once, when I was twenty-years old and living in New York, I went on a rant against Starbucks to this person I was trying to impress. The P.I.W.T.T.I. said that I seemed a “wee bit inauthentic”: that was his exact phrase; it stung so stupidly that sometimes I still wake up in a panic over it, over this person.

The worst part was that this person was right, of course.

I’d like to think that I’ve since grown into a much more sincere figure; that I left New York and its influences at the right time. That I love Starbucks and can say I love Starbucks because they are all the same, everywhere, which is what I need, having traveled around a lot since New York; so that each Starbucks-the-same feels like a home. (Andy Warhol would have approved.) That I have friends who are understanding; who understand who they are. Who think better of me than I do myself, even, at times; at just the right times. I’d like to think that to my students I am who I am, too. One high school student of mine said, upon graduating and to another teacher, “He always treated us like equals.” I’m sure some administrators would consider that a criticism, but I thought it a great compliment. And, Amy, do you remember what you said about me in your graduation speech that year before I left for London? You said, “Richard Arlington R––, who always told us to just be ourselves.” I still cry about that sometimes, because the principal, he yelled at me that day I wore Chuck Taylors to school, saying it wasn’t professional. But I was just being myself. And you knew that. And all we have in the end, I sometimes think, are our connections to other people, like Forster said. I don’t know that I need much more than that.

Although I used to want better teeth.

Derrida Goes to the Dentist

When I was 17, the dentist said,
“I can put something
behind your front teeth
that will close up that gap.”
I thanked him, but
said I wasn’t ready.

At 24, I made an appointment
with a cosmetic specialist
in Paramus. I went in
and was ambushed by
dayglow smiles; all I remember
are those freaky beams, Alice.
That doctor said, “We’ll fit
two porcelain veneers that will
last twenty years.” I
took the literature and left.

That night I stared at myself
in the mirror, trying to imagine
it. I fashioned a small strip of
paper to cast over my mouth’s
lacuna. Then I stashed away
the pricing plan and
never went back for a follow-up,
fearing, What if that’s how
I’ve learned to
breathe; what if I
couldn’t, not after that.

The next year, before
I left for London,
a student said, “Don’t go there
(don’t leave us).
They have bad teeth
over there. (Why are you
leaving us for a land
of people with bad teeth?)”

I am going back to
my homeland;
will everyone
have teeth like me?

I don’t know if they
did. But I know that
I learned what it meant to be
to just be happy with this lost, lusty
countenance. To have it


be enough.

This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Monday, 4/30

  1. rachalina says:

    I wish I could triple like this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s