The Big Sleep by Philip Schultz
The only thing that consoles us for our miseries is diversion, and yet it is the greatest of our miseries.
On Turner Classic Movies Philip Marlowe
is grimacing at the slinky beauty
of the woman who will become
the wife of the actor playing him.
The man playing me, up at three this morning,
worrying about the cost of private school,
health insurance, and the slow grinding
away of his savings, is wearing
bleaching molds because a stain chart
listed his smile as second to worst.
On CNN quaint dioramas of Baghdad,
the Sudan, and Gaza depict recent forms
of human misery. Is there a chart
that measures our ignorance and vanity?
On PBS philosophers are debating what
Nietzsche meant by our desire to create
beyond ourselves the purest will.
The sexual fire in the amber eyes
of the woman Lauren Bacall is playing,
perhaps? On the Western Channel
the whiteness of Joel McCrae’s teeth
has survived dust storms, chewing tobacco,
and his character’s nostalgia for
the brutality of his tiny moment. Some believe
we’ve consumed our originality,
that our diorama will depict nothing.
On the Disney Channel all fifty-six signers
of the Declaration of Independence
are shouting about the indignity of domination
for everyone except perhaps those
tending their fields and children.
Did the man playing Nietzsche grow weary
of trying to grow happiness out of pure will?
Hat over heart, the man playing my father
stood perpendicular to his exhausted,
uneducated, immigrant shadow, weeping
to our national anthem. A man stood for something,
he said. Did the actor playing Marlowe
understand that Marlowe stood for nothing?
On the History Channel men and beasts
are being slaughtered by machetes, explosions,
and hangings, their swollen, mystified bodies
falling into ravines, dropping to their knees
screaming for their mothers and God save them.
It’s three in the morning and everywhere
around me the silence stands for nothing
and even the god playing God wants to sleep.