Off Screen Isocephaly

after Ruth Bavetta’s painting, Chronicle
Ruth Bavetta, Chronicle, oil on linen  48x78 1986
Everyone dressed as passersby,
we wait for the scene, our call,
ignore the orange barricades and cones,
talk of smallish things: Trump, new heat.

The sky is not full of California light
in Iowa, but still we play the polyester parts
assigned to us, squinting, calm as cameras,
relegated to realms of the unseen.

Even the cop whose heavy belt is full
of faux bravado knows: he is but an extra.
The yellow of his close-cropped hair,
his crown of golden bangs, echoes like the sun

across the moment: Charles’ sensible
button-up shirt, Leslie’s too warm
butter golf sweater, Johnny’s thinning part.
In flip flops and short shorts he watches

well-paid leads deliver middleclass malaise
too perfectly. Take after take, how earnestly they
chronicle our pale, hedged lives on tiny screens.
We mutely mouth their plastic lines, practicing.

January 2016

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