Adam Fieled

from The Great Recession

          American X

From inside the American art scene, he
used to think to himself (especially New
York), you can only take things so far if
you’re not backed up; and (praise the Lord)
he was. But he only did the requisite
amount of dealing, and no more. He
actually cared, here and there, about
what he was creating. He was mordant
and morbid in the right way, the art-
press said. But the “X” someone
scrawled on a napkin and left on his
night-stand last night suggest something
mordant to his will. Isn’t that funny?

          Anchor Man

Every day it’s the same routine—
a few of these, a few puffs of this
or that. He reads from the prompter,
high as a kite. Everything he reads is,
as he knows, pure nonsense and even
high, he can’t get comfortable with the
situation. It’s all too obvious— not
that anyone’s out there to notice. The
perks of local fame aren’t much anymore.
But they drop the pills and the pot into
his lap to arrange the emptiness and
deadness of things. He seems to see,
receding into a greasy gray sunset,
some notion of an ideal he once had,
at least sometimes. The smile freezes on.

          Wet Dream

He walks around in a bilious, towering rage—
he can’t even stand the teenager selling him
cigarettes. Nor can he stand the stacks of
newspapers, the freezers full of soda, the
rows of gum and mints. Everything here
was made in a factory, as was he, only to
find in the last epoch of his life he was
alone, the shelf he was on bare but for
him. The teenager behind the counter
laughs at this old grump, because his
father is even worse, who can’t afford smokes.

          Limekiln Pike

This in-crowd were always going on
escapades. After a certain point, I told
them they were like a bad show on Fox.
She told me later the comment stung.
If she really is dead and buried (that’s
what the text said), I’m sorry. I’m sorry
that having a few kids in this economy
killed her off. My own version of
deadness: re-runs. The last time I turned
left onto Limekiln Pike, I almost got
hit by a convertible full of kids.

          Abington Night

I keep imagining Abington at night.
The sense in the air is this: we can’t
be as far down as we are. The guy
tending bar here (in this dreamed-
of place) is an old friend. His angle
on the world (he’s been married and
divorced) is satire. But satire depends
on people being willing to laugh. And
if I still sit in my car in the parking
lot of Abington High leering
at girls, I can still laugh at that too.
The Dairy Queen on Limekiln Pike
remains the same. The girls still like
ice-cream in the summer-time, right?

Adam Fieled is a poet based in Philadelphia. His books include Apparition Poems, Chimes, Opera Bufa, and Cheltenham. His books and press cuttings are being archived by the Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre, London.
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