Before leaving

discard piles of weekly magazine employment classifieds . dirty dishtowels, need replacing . ditto, the car . boxes stuffed with working papers, political reprints from college and later stint as academic editor . one more career detour, Swami . save file folders for reuse . don’t need any extra expenses now . former jobs, like former loves . what can you do at the moment? rat out pigeons from under the eaves, their smell of warm barn rot . dust and mop . Ajax or Comet the bathroom sink, tub, bowl . remake the bed after slippery sheets expose toes to night chill . clean the parakeet cage, heart yearning for its owner . how I’d love to trade that old English bicycle, with its flat tire and second gear that strips out, get a sleek ten-speed . instead, you need new blue jeans and pour a fresh motor oil in the Subaru . indoors, lay a wood fire but don’t ignite kindling, the coy display to signal a homebuyer . not all of the ash of this failure is mine

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