I wrote this in the back cover of Singing School by Robert Pinsky while I was waiting at the DMV.
I took the day off of work to come here. I'm sitting in a plastic chair in a row of many other rows with other people who are dressed against the cold. There are red streamers hanging from the ceiling because it's Valentine's Day and I think the government workers love us. I brought this book with me. It's kind of an anthology called Singing School, and I'm finding that only some poems are working with the rhythm of this place.
William Blake's "A Question Answered" - no. Nothing by Emily Dickinson either, or any other poem that sounds like something you might hum to a baby.
But "Howl" is working. It fits somehow with the electronic calling of alphanumeric names and the monotone questions.
"Now serving E414 at counter number 5."
Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch!
"Now serving A016 at counter number 18."
Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo!
"Sir, do you wear glasses?"
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows!
I look up at the electronic board above my head. It's blinking bright red letters and numbers. A014 is next but that doesn't tell me how soon it will be for me because they're not calling in any kind of order. A015 doesn't follow A014. It's H218 next.
I wonder, because it's Valentine's Day and the streamers are suggesting that I think about these things, if I'll ever have love in my life again. Sometimes I wonder if I'm even capable of feeling it anymore. This isn't something I'm sad about. What's more sad is how detached I feel from the question.
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!
Nothing makes me feel less human than sitting in a room full of other humans who are waiting to be processed. Sometimes names are called, I guess the ones who are at the end of the process and their licenses are done.
But this is still better than love. This is still better than flowers and behind them all of the uncertainty, and my own bullshit. I am B105, waiting. Which window? Tell me when and which window? I'll wait in my row until the harsh red light flashes B105. It's preferable to chalky, tasteless hearts with alphanumeric codes like "Text u l8r." Staying single sometimes feels like self-love and a public service at the same time - and that perspective seems self-pitying and overly dramatic to me. I'm not really sure how to feel at all.
Dreams! Adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!
Ok, so maybe I'm not so detached. I'm just not sure that I can feel anything like that again. Maybe I fit with the rhythm of this place today. I'm ok with the little headaches of cracked plastic chairs and Window 11 now serving C135.
real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell. They jumped off the roof!
I was called to Window 18. And the computer is down. Cocksucker in Moloch. I dream Angels.