Poems by Louis Lento
The cacophonous ring
of the motel-room phone woke me into the eerie dream of a bad tv movie —
it was Tuesday morning.
In the half-sleep grogginess
of my 7am wakeup call, the curtains in the room looked opaque
except for the light gray tight creeping through the window edges.
I turned on the tube for background noise while I dressed for a meeting
and the movie grew stranger as
I searched my suitcase for a tie:
news coverage Manhattan interviews
The gaping wounds
of the twin towers
lay open to the tv world.
smoke debris statistics
I pressed my pants
with the motel-room iron
and couldn’t find matching socks.
The Pentagon was bleeding black smoke on one channel, a Pennsylvania field
was littered with twisted metal on another. In the Big Apple, leaping bodies
floated down a hundred stories
like discarded tulips from a flower bowl:
replay slow motion every channel newscasters emergency crews disbelief
I grabbed my computer bag and bagel, checked out, and waited for a shuttle in the lobby of this beautiful, terrible,
if we would ever sleep soundly again; and decided we would,
Twenty Four Hour Lifetime in L.A.
When morning percolates the waking day
and buses echo through the city’s walls,
the citizens start all over again
as if to press the Rewind of their lives.
The army vet wakes up on public lawns
in a makeshift sleeping bag like yesterday,
and the chef in his fiery kitchen on restaurant row is shackled to a menu set in stone.
Then when the day turns into afternoon
and the afternoon starts melting into night, apartment couples moan their same old sex, varying the rhythm once a month.
And those next door continue with their fights, waking up the newborns of the world,
while the elderly proceed to wake themselves, nocturnal urination breaks their sleep.
The lifetime that we’re granted everyday
Is lived, like déjà vu, with little change,
And when the city’s tape has reached its end, It’s left there flapping on the spinning reel.