Parade for Two

by Ben Gallagher

Ben Gallagher is a Toronto-based poet and essayist. He has worked as a landscaper, wedding caterer, sailing instructor, and art teacher, among other odd jobs. He is beginning a PhD at OISE, researching arts education and ecology. Recent writing can be found online at The Puritan, (parenthetical), untethered, Lion's Roar, Prairie Fire and Sewer Lid.

 

 

Released from hospital
we walk the little dog
whose voice I hate
trying out words on each other
to see if they match a feeling
In psychosis       she says
I could hear the teeth
two doors down clicking
and how women are always
inside the paintings, historically
and only walking props open
the doors of my eyes

I take an extra dose
of ice cream
and do not use the word
“avoid” on myself
in case my thoughts
turn into a circle

I am completely free
but today freedom means
constructing my own reality
and when my world stops working
I can only blame myself.
I much prefer blaming others
but I forgot to construct them
back when I sensed I knew
what I was doing

Would you like to go home
they ask and I dutifully say
“let me think about it”
when what I meant was
let me feel about it
Thinking happens behind round glasses
on the faces of round men
who have their own interests in mind
I was capable of it once
but loss interfered
and now I am a thirsty wound
touching the tender places tenderly
and treating each day
like it’s the first one ever

The little dog is panting
because he only has little legs
he takes approximately sixteen steps
for every one of ours
his whole life is fast
he is probably a true poet
or he is a child of mythical
one percenters never worried about food
and the quality of his sleep

Oh you delicate tyrant      I say
and pick him up
while I hate his voice I hate
suffering more and this
is what I am feeling about
all the time, that my free little world
presses up against every other
stacks of tuna cans
or invisible bricks and
what gives them their shape
is suffering, it’s the mortar,
the aluminum, dolphin by-catch
in the net, is the net
my dream-vision of myself
as a revered emperor
ascending?

Yes I am an emperor
alone under this one star
but briefly, it comes and goes.
mostly I am a member of
a co-op, rent is cheap
and the emperors are equals
I would like to go home
so I do, it’s that easy
now that I am free
and I wave goodbye
to my subjects, the dog
who will have a brief life
and the girl who will, we hope,
live longer.
I turn inward and the bubble
closes around me
seamlessly
into tomorrow.

 


Ben Gallagher is a Toronto-based poet and essayist. He has worked as a landscaper, wedding caterer, sailing instructor, and art teacher, among other odd jobs. He is beginning a PhD at OISE, researching arts education and ecology. Recent writing can be found online at The Puritan, (parenthetical), untethered, Lion's Roar, Prairie Fire and Sewer Lid.

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