Rodan's hands

Three Poems from Late for the Gratitude Meeting

First Line

In the end of days what you need is a good first line.
To distract you from the truth with its own truth.
The way pain can sometimes distract from pain.
The way beauty can sometimes distract from pain.
The way a good bedtime story can light up the dark
side of an entire planet, given a little room
with a bed in the corner, a few right words, a child
listening. In the end of days what you need is a good
beginning. Something hopeful and trembling like a tongue.
Something open and unselfconscious like a mouth,
listening to the words, and the music of the words.
Something steeply rocking like a ship, or a sleep, heavy,
floating, viable, smelling of saltwater and infinite possibility.


There should be a comma here,
he said. And it made you want to
remove all the commas remove
all your clothes and dance around
naked with the poem in your hand
waving it around in the air singing
comma comma comma comma
while the other poets in the work-
shop clutched their pocketbooks
and pens and meh poems to their
caved-in craven chests your leap-
ing poem bungee jumping boing-
boing off the walls and ceiling cut-
ting the air with the cutting edge of
its lines like sickles like scythes like
live catenary wires whipping the dead
air of that bleak classroom kicking
fusty seemly sedentary poet butt
and you swinging from the killer last
line leaping singing windmilling right
out the door. But instead you said,
Yes, thank you, there should be,
and dryly inserted the comma with
your yellow-bellied number 2 pencil,
sat back and sighed with your slack
mouth open for more feedback.


The first time I saw one
sitting there next to the toilet
like the toilet’s foreign-looking cousin
from Paris, showing up unexpectedly
on my trip to the hotel bathroom,

I asked my mother what it was for.
For washing yourself down there,
she said. And because I was only eight
or nine, and didn’t know anything
about such things--Europeans or

their down theres--it turned into
one of those things that all my life
I have thought was for other people
but not for me. Like bungee jumping,
orgies, or visiting the queen. Fast

forward five decades: Last month
on a trip to Europe we met again--
me and the plumbing fixture. I stood there
in the hotel bathroom considering it
for a long time. You are nearly

sixty, I said to myself. Live a little.
And this is the part I want to tell you about,
the part my mother didn’t have the words for,
the part that will make it or break it for
the poem about the bidet. Seated

on the toilet, I transferred my buttocks,
anus, perineum and genitals in one smooth
pas de bourree onto the bidet,
reached back for the soap dispenser
and the vertical jet, and lived a little

and loved it. I felt cleaner, fresher,
spryer. I felt like bungee jumping,
or making love to all of housekeeping.
I mean really. I mean royally. I am even thinking
of installing one at home. As a souvenir.