by Tom Finkel
Stan Laurel. It's when he scratches his head;
rueful, a little vague, but definitely
a thinking animal. (The same unmixed appeal,
like children and the very old.) Why is it
so reassuring that man is not the first
two-legged beast to discover he thinks, and with what?
Left to his own devices, he travels alone,
or in twos, or threes;
not, like his more categorical brothers,
in orders, complete with vows and hierarchies.
Think how our early fathers, more often than not,
were surly anchorites. No company
would have them.
(Some barefaced son of a slightly dubious mother
scratches his skull, and finds
the fly still walking upside-down inside.
The motels blink their neon-yellow eyes,
Fords growl in the underbrush: the jungle
is safe again for democracy and the legion.)
He looks at me from under his rueful wrinkle;
I am less reassured.
I want to whisper: I am not with the others.
Essential man is alone, whether caged or free,
whether nose to tail with his mate in the bog of Desire,
or trailed by a half dozen wet-nosed consequences.
Through the hand-polished bars he hears it the way it comes out:
I am not your keeper.-Donald Finkel