Self-Portrait with Soft Ropes and Escape

I'm a poor imitation of a parrot as boss or calendar planner.

I do better as a minor-minor Houdini
untangling a bowl of pasta ropes with my tongue.

Even better as a lint roller who insists
there can be a little more life after one square.

At meetings I've learned to copy the language of banned
synthetics: transparency, opacity, longevity.

Does knowing a thing can never be destroyed make it happy?

Growing up in a family of breakfast table
knife-throwers,
I'm still trying to learn the pose "Serene
Buddha of Glacial Composure."

My friends want to sign me up for workshops on Yes You
Can Really Not Give a Fuck.

Several times a day I am torn between misery and elation,
disappointment and hope—

Just pick one, any one, they say with impatience.

But when I finally make my candy selection, most likely
I wind up with the chocolate covered maraschino.
It's the one with the goopy center
that tastes like cough medicine.

Those who don't really know me
sometimes gush: You have such a charmed life.

When I close my eyes I want to see
a line of water buffaloes in tutus,
kicking up their heels
a la Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.

The ensemble has yet to stage "Carmen;"
but when they do I want it to be only that part
where she sings her beguiling seguidilla and convinces
the officer of the guard to untie her bonds.

I want to be that one scene only: the gypsy
woman in red, her laughter the sound
made by clear glass
marbles rolling away, little wicks
of trapped color pulsing like flames.

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