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Apr 10
Arts and Poetry
A Wary Invitation to my Future Child by Ethan Nichtern

“And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence,
are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.”

– Walt Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

1. The Disclaimer

Let me just say I’m not expecting you for a while
Except by tragedy of bubble-burst latex
You won’t come wailing anytime soon.
So if all goes according to the Plan
according to Which nothing ever goes
you should be slowly wrapping things up in your last life right now
taking long walks and talking nonsense to strangers and drooling a little bit
trying to untie mental knots
making temporary peace with those apparent contradictions
getting affairs in order
just so that others may grieve what I welcome.
Maybe you’re a satin-clad Goddess who rides a long-tusked elephant
or maybe you just got world peace declared on the Planet Zolton
or maybe you’re that eccentric horseshoe crab misunderstood by all the other horseshoe crabs whose genius as a horseshoe crab will only be recognized long after a lonely death in a lonely horseshoe shell.
I hope you’re not a consultant.

2. The Fine Print

aggression still tantalizes us
(I’m sorry)

attachment’s like a bungee cord
(I’m sorry)

ignorance emits a steady hum
(I’m sorry)

Your father’s a crazy buddhist
(I’m sorry)
kids don’t get to make any decisions
(I’m sorry)

parents argue over money and then slam doors shut
(I’m sorry)

adults make three lists: one short list called “Friends,” one longer list called “Enemies,” and one really long list called “Who Cares?”
(I’m sorry)

Old people scream “I wish I could have done more!” which nobody understands because their words are slurred by strokes and tears.
(I’m sorry)

If two people look each other in the eye it’s usually by accident
(I’m sorry)

When people dance they get embarrassed
(I’m sorry)

When people speak they get self-conscious
(I’m sorry)

When people smile they feel guilty
(I’m sorry)

We have this little thing called propaganda
(I’m sorry)

We have this big thing called poverty
(I’m sorry)

We have these huge things called armies
(I’m sorry)

There’s no escape from your own mind–believe me I already tried Everything
(I’m really really sorry)

You will become what you hate–it’s inevitable
The only way I’ve found to deal with this is to expand the scope of what you love
But this isn’t about wishful thinking
It’s about courage and training
(That’s the one thing I won’t apologize for)

3. The Invitation

Where you are now do they have cartoons?
Where you are now do they scream philosophy and sip caffeine?
Where you are now do they have paintings where the oil leaves a 3D trail across the canvas?
Where you are now did they reinvent the wheel a thousand times?
Where you are now are there kaleidoscopic cities?
Where you are now  are your fingers mesmerized by the grey texture of the mortar which holds a brick wall together?
Where you are now do they have Bob Dylan?
Where you are now does your body come with two of everything just in case?
Where you are now do genitals interlock so perfectly and then separate like defective velcro?
Where you are now do all your teachers sneak up into the crawl-space between thoughts and haunt you?
Where you are now do friends sit crosslegged in a circle playing conga drums until a half-hour past a cloudy dawn at which point they all get up together and cook Eggs Overtired with salsa and say as a matter-of-fact in between yawns and mouthfuls: “let’s save the world!”?


4. PostScript

At the bottom of a cardboard pile in a just-sold house in Arkansas is a pristine photograph of a grandfather who dies of a fourth heart attack just as his grandson reaches the ripe old age of negative 1 (Earth years). He holds a baby girl and he looks just like me. Or I should say that I look just like him, that is, if we want to be polite and pretend that a circle is a line.


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