- The Scenario, and: The System, and: The Poem About the Henhouse, and: If I Knew What He Knew, and: What I Should Tell You More Often
- The Scenario
“Harry,” someone tells me, “for that kind of money bad things happen to people.” Which was how I made the connection between money and nothing,
and saw the street after midnight where I’d be outnumbered and alone under the bridge. But there’s always another scenario,
and in it the plot will be treating me quite differently. I might be standing with you by a lake at twilight. I might hear
some kind of bird singing, and feel lucky. “We don’t like to say much,” others told me, “because we don’t want to lose our lives.”
That made sense, I respected that, and I believe the scenario wanted me to feel the same, meaning afraid, meaning awestruck
at all the bad things that can happen to people, then uncertain if the opposite could have been arranged instead—
like walking out into the sun without even a penny in my pocket, wondering where you might be. I’m back in the city
right now, quite well dressed in fact, and waiting for a train. “Harry,” the man behind me says, “don’t stand too close to the edge. At least not yet.” [End Page 45]
- The System
The system looks perfect to those who understand it. The poor get little because they need a lot, while the rich, who don’t, get more.
So the poor spend all day lying around as though they were rich, but that’s not what they’re thinking. As for me,
if I were rich I’d devote my life to sleep, which is the way, I’d explain, to stave off death. And if anyone
were to tell me how stupid this idea really is, I’d reply, Of coursethat’s just your opinion, which I don’t share
because I’m rich. And if I were poor? I’d dedicate myself even harder to the intricacies of this system,
its pathways and vistas, its detours and dead ends, and all of the shadowy corners where sometimes the rich appear
to ask for my trust. Believe us, they whisper. What you can’t have you don’t need. What you were never given you will never lose. [End Page 46]
- The Poem About the Henhouse
However hard you may try, there is nevermuch to say about a henhouse.
There it is. There are the hens coming and going back into the house to lay their eggs. Later they sleep.
There’s more, but only if one knew about hens and their houses, and even then would there be much more to say?
So the wise writer turns elsewhere. Soon he’ll need an ordinary house and a yard where children are playing happily
for all he can see, which causes him to write that children’s cruelty knows no bounds, which is why the cruelty
of adults knows no bounds either. Then he remembers his grandfather telling him, “The world is so beautiful,
it makes me sad to think I have to die.” Even the henhouse is beautiful, and its rickety fence, the fields also
and dry gullies, and the hills bearing up under the sun, and the amazement of the sky above them all. [End Page 47]
- If I Knew What He Knew
I was standing on the rickety porch of my house staring out at the lawn, half-listening to the radio where someone was explaining
it’s a good idea to stay out of your own backyard if you have trees there. Had dangerous weather been predicted? Steve Jobs was sick,
and a man who once worked for him was confessing: “I’d like to meet him in heaven and say, ‘Thank you.’” I wondered
how Steve Jobs, who wasn’t yet in heaven, might feel about that. I wondered if Steve Jobs believed in heaven...