Ian Ganassi


Paul Bunyan was my best friend. But then again,
Lots of people seem to have that delusion.
He was nothing if not big. He also had a certain magic
Somewhere about him. But all of that seems to be fading.

Or maybe it’s me that’s fading. No one knows better or worse,
Whether or not their esthetics take the moral
Or ethical high ground. We repeat what we emulate,
Like a certain way of talking, or squinting, or walking.

Or drying one’s hands on one’s pants, for instance.
They used to wear copper badges I’m told. Living in the wrong
Century is a letdown, and every century is the wrong one.
The same could be said for countries. Pull the battle map

Out of your pocket; are you making for higher ground?
Everybody’s doing it. One day someone walks into
The emergency room with something strange on their tongue.
So much for the usual vaccines. And any sentence

Can be cobbled together, framed up. The ante, they up it,
Up yours. Hard labor. Carry me back to old Virginny.
Cross my heart and hope to die, a needle and all that.
A dog barking on cue—that was the curious incident.

Perhaps his name is Sam. And why not? A barker barking the cure
Or the illness—pry these out of my cold dead hands.
Do you sell a lot of those? Listen to that, it’s the Good Humor Man!
But don’t try to steal and don’t try to borrow. Baker & Bell,

Vendors of fine dry goods. Still I wish I had one. You will,
Cousin, you will. He seemed so calm, they lost track of his disability.
He was thinking about a Toasted Almond Bar, or a gin martini.
And is this the twilight with which we are so concerned?


Death sits in the back of the auditorium coughing in the ear
Of the person in front of him. But it’s all a big waste of time

As far as I can tell. Long lines on a slippery slope, when the subject
Was nasty, brutish and short, like Napoleon. There’s small, tall,

Skinny, fat and dopey. I wave to them from the shore.
Little did they know how many pills were behind his equanimity.

Can I borrow you for the weekend, asked the beautiful blond stranger;
We weren’t sure what to do with that request. Funny how we need

To get screwed up to get screwed up. But the frost
Is in the stubble anyway. I forget what the whole world is about.

And in the meantime a lot of grouse. “That’s what people do, they pair off.”
But why should I listen to you? Or your housekeeper, for that matter?

The things I should have said could fill a bucket; I try to work
Them in somehow, a few days or weeks later. My normal condition

Is to be early at all the events for which I’m late. Talk about
Micro-managing, it adds up to a dubious platform.

Unify its appearance all you want, I’m not what I appear to be,
Whatever that might be. And what of it? Spare me Mr. Clean,

With your wood chopping stance. Assume the position.
The biggest fools I’ve ever known were anxious to ram the insult in.

You and your three sons. If he was dying of cancer,
Would he tell me? No. It doesn’t fit in his code of echo.

Bravo delta Falstaff falling. I would have to ask. I should have realized
A long time ago. Live and learn—but try to do it before you die.

Ian Ganassi has recent poems in Sonic Boom, First Literary Review East, and South Florida Poetry Journal. His poetry collection, Mean Numbers, was published by China Grove in September of 2016.
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