Poet's Choice: 'Monday' by Randall Mann

By Randall Mann
Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Monday" began on a Friday, in April 2007, when I flew to Palm Springs for what I hoped would be a romantic weekend with someone I thought I knew. Well, it was a disaster from the start: He was a lovely specimen, but when leaving the Palm Springs airport, on a little spin around town, he grandly pointed out the "Andrew Lloyd Webber" house on one block. (He meant Frank Lloyd Wright.) And it went downhill from there. I suggested that we catch Tarantino's three-hour "Grindhouse," the longest movie in the multiplex, in an attempt to kill time and conversation. During it, I texted my friends choice malapropisms uttered by my date. I was haughty, and I left Palm Springs in a huff.

Very early Monday, when I returned to San Francisco, I grew more and more dispirited, mostly with myself, with my pettiness and impatience. That morning, while i waited in Dolores Park for the J-Church streetcar to take me to work, the contrast of beauty and waste in the park, of syringes discarded by the tracks near wildflowers, prompted me to think, then think again, about this young man's beauty, which was his magnanimity, and my lack thereof. So the poem "Monday," like that long weekend, moves from hope to disdain to cruel self-knowledge and then, ultimately, back to hope.

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While you wait for the J train, for work, think

of your new boyfriend, who loves apostrophes,

sizzle-pants, and you.

Who pointed out the "Andrew Lloyd Webber" house

and said his feelings have started to "Escalade."

You'll forgive him for now, smarty pants.

(Your last, the crisp progressive, declawed

his cat to save his Ethan Allen chairs.) Besides,

there's such promise, such furniture and new sex!

Look: wildflowers bloom in the streetcar tracks;

a syringe lies in the grass. It isn't

beautiful, of course, this life. It is.

"Monday" is from "Breakfast with Thom Gunn," by Randall Mann. Copyright © 2009 by the University of Chicago.

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