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the state of the empireTo Steve Dalachinsky's previous piece

the phone call (first)

i place a call  expecting to get a machine  i get a real person instead
it's a woman        i hang          up
i step into the hall  i've been expecting a call from a friend   i miss it
he gets my machine     says he cannot fully understand the message i have left him
but will meet me tonite just the same
this is not the first time this has happened     yes it is

my wife says the terrorist has released another video of himself
another gift
before his next gift of violence
before some other sucker takes the plunge in the name of allah
it's the first time
yes it is not

it's the first star i've seen since the towers collapsed
it used to be hidden behind them
the first moon
blossoming between the chimney
& the water tower
the first horse
the first shadow
the first clear day

steve  there's a war on     -     don't bother me  i'm watching the game
steve  there's more sunlite today  -   don't bother me  i'm watching the game
steve  there's less security -       don't bother me  i'm watching the game
steve  there's less civil liberties -  don't bother me  i'm watching the game

i stood on liberty street  for a moment
waiting to be filled
the sky obliged me
                         it's not the same  nothing will ever be the same  so what's the rush?
    sleep  sleep as much as you want  everyone sleeps a lot now  sleep late
                  sleep as late as you want  everyone oversleeps  & oversleeps
      they're depressed and anxious  they'd rather have good dreams
                    being late for work has become fashionable -     what's the rush?

what's anthrax?   she asks me like a little girl  - don't bother me i'm playing the game
                                                      you'll know it when you catch
            i proclaim     & by that time it won't matter

i'm afraid i say  & i'm not afraid to say it  i'm afraid & everybody knows it
  but it's not like it hasn't happened before  in some other time
                                                or like right now in some other place
     it's just that it's happening to us for the first time   & we no longer feel safe

             it's the first breakfast
                  the first poem
                  the first kiss
                  the first orgasm
                  the first movie
                  the first sale

     i make phone calls hoping to get machines
     if i had e-mail     no problem
                                        i hope the voice on the other end
             did not feel frightened  when i suddenly hung up

things are different now
from today on  everything must be abridged

                                               steve   steve   the war is over
           don't bother me   don't bother me

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