VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Jonathan Bracker

Not An Option?

“Complaining is not an option,” proclaims the Ph.D.

Whose self-help books sell internationally 

Though not as well as before: now he has been convicted

Of sexual impropriety and has been made to pay a quite steep fine.

Before that, adorers tended to overlook his peccadilloes.  They loved

How he paced back and forth on the podium, to be videoed

Looking like a prophet come from a week in the desert,

Fiery but now bathed and put into light khaki slacks

And a pinkish sweater over a long-sleeved shirt.  He educated

His gleeful audience of not-poor people as to what to do. 

But now some husbands wonder, their wives having gotten them there,

About the naughty doctor who is human after all and makes mistakes.

Some of the wives question too.  Yet maybe a message has been heard

From paying attention (though no longer any money)

To the guru with feet of clay who has been through a lot himself

And perhaps when at home alone, now that his spouse has vamoosed,

Complains although he said nobody should.

Feeling Out Of Sorts 

I am glad I looked it up. Now I know: “sorts” 

Is a term from typesetting, referring to a letter

Or character in a particular font. Let us say

If on a Monday morning around ten or eleven

A typesetter reaches for an “L” and cannot find one, 

Or an ampersand is nowhere to be found, 

He might want to chuck it all for now, to step

Around the corner to Max’s Tavern for an India pale ale

And stay for another and maybe for one more.

Today I cannot put my hands on the sorts

Which make up “patience.” The sorts for “trust” 

Are no longer in sight. “Hope,” whose sorts

I recall used to be in their cases, is absent now.

Though gone are the days of the letterpress 

When, according to Wikipedia, “individual sorts

Were picked from a type case with the right hand

And set into a composing stick 

Held in the left hand from left to right, 

And as viewed by the setter upside down,” 

This morning, until the sun comes out – 

Literally or figuratively – 

I am sorely tempted to go back to bed

Because I feel like sulking, 

Being so much “out of sorts,” 

And I see that I need to stop right now

Composing sentences to be set in type and printed 

For others to read.

What He Is Asking For

A dear friend with whom

I talk about such things

Urges me to strive for

Authenticity.  He is quite

Bright, but in this I believe

He is not using his good brain.

Wants me to be authentic?

Does he not know what Hell

I imagine would be let loose were I

To open wide the tight bag

Which is my life?  Not a sight

I would want to see, myself.

Better to continue on my accustomed way

Because the unknown is for explorers

And I am a spectator.  Yes, I have considered

I may be cheating myself and friends

To give us only this.  

But I am being authentic when I do not.

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