Tsuris by M.Y. Salzman
by Mark Chmiel
Was it something I said?
Was it a promise I botched?
Was it something I didn’t say?
Was it an important letter for your future I said I’d write, but didn’t?
Was it one of my facial expressions giving offense that sweltering day on Wolf Pen Branch Road?
Was it that dusk I took refuge in the back alley when you wanted me in front of the dart board at Gerstle’s Place?
Was it that I invoked La Rochefoucauld one too many times at meetings?
Was it because someone at Café Diderot snapped and circulated a photo of Raúl and me, both of us grinning to beat the band?
Was it that admittedly inscrutable series of emails?
Or was it one of my irritating outbursts of plain speech?
Was it because my collection Why You got a couple of laudatory reviews, while your book on ontology did not (yet) precipitate the paradigm shift you were counting on?
Was it because I fell into monomania last spring and couldn’t talk about anything but Ibn Khaldūn?
Was it the poem I wrote about S, instead of you?
Was it because I only invited Carolina to join me in reading the history of the Guatemalan resistance?
Two weeks ago, was it my spirited advocacy of breathing meditation instead of revolutionary dialectics?
Was it because I’d become a predictable bore to you, always yammering on about Life and Fate?
Now I eat dinner alone at Wang’s Wok
The only phone calls are from alma maters asking for money
I must be missing some social cues
I even make nudniks look pretty attractive
I pick up the vibeage from every direction
I look this way and that
These days, I feel like the State of Israel:
I’m getting boycotted left and right
–from work-in-progress, Fernando Pessoa Was Last Seen at the Corner of Fourth & Fellini