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things 12
summer 2000
Alan Mäkinen
Systems of elimination

The cat is at the window, analysing the
             content of the spring air.
Iím at the computer, deleting messages
                          from you.
A blue flame is burning eternally 
damp socks, sour towels,and sea 
 shells I never really wanted,
an array of allergy medications in
                    curiously shaped dispensers,
a stack of paystubs that date back to the
           year of  Vietnamís liberation,
a painful memory of hot cinnamon
      candy, heavy chlorethene
and nearly all the false notes I played
               while learning Bachís 
        Three-Part Inventions.

The cat purrs for 16 years on my lap
as I wait for the computer to
                          finish downloading
                                        an update.
I wonít miss the dog slobber, the hours of
            insensitive laughter,
or the flowers with cute names.
                  Buttercups, snap dragons, 
And the thousands of poisoned
         cockroaches wonít miss me. 
                      I hardly got to know
these packets of ribbed condoms. They
                were, anyway, surprisingly
Iíll even surrender my long-neglected
                                    hey do not tell
to an indiscriminate fire.

The cat sunbathes while I take apart
the computer. Iím upgrading its memory.
An incinerator-for-hire has disposed of
at least one aborted foetus, my appetite
               for beer and fried potatoes,
and my childlike enthusiasm for systems
               of elimination. The backlog
of futile flirtations, misplaced loves, and
                     half-hearted disputes is 
                                            up next.
Eventually, the mildewed walls, puddles of
                        hair clippings, ragged
sassy beggars, and fur-lined weekend
                   shoppers will also perish.

Alone now,
I use the computer
to search for information.
A white flame blackens my skin,
overcooks the noodles, ridicules my
etiological methods, and leaves an
                                       itemised bill.
The cold wakes me, shivering on the
                  floor. The fireproof words,
heavy sweaters, and cat whiskers that Iíve
                    collected all remain intact.

things 12, summer 2000

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