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CLOSE / Parnassiad

Peace and Other Stories

Fragments of a Formerly Active Sex Life

The Archer
by Marc Sobel  /  poetry  /  23 Aug 2007

Maybe this is happiness,

I don't know.

I'm never sure,

But right now,

I have to admit,

I am grateful to be alive.


It's, as ol' blue eyes would say,

"The wee small hours of the morning":

Just before 5:00 am,

A cool, crisp December dawn,

And while the library sleeps

There's traffic on 5th Avenue,

Ninety percent cabs,

But still, the occasional cop --

So I gotta stay sharp.


Still, it is, by New York standards

A quiet night,

A Tuesday,

I think.


I place the apple --

A red delicious, if you must know --

Upon an inverted Coke can

On the top stair,

Under the South Lion --

Who, I also think you should know,

I named Reggie,

After the man,

Mr. October.


I march

Deliberately slow,

Secretly hoping for spectators

Despite the late hour,

In a weird combination

Of military and tap dance

That I just made up on the spot,

Across the gum-spotted marble stair,

Like a tiny mine field

Measuring out twenty paces


I was an art major

In a former life --

An oil and canvass type,

And I always hated

Drawing still-lifes,

But, as I stare down the barrel

At that naked apple

Glistening in the golden half-light of the moon,

The symmetry of life

Suddenly comes into focus

And I'm immediately overcome

With that old hunger to paint.


I suppose

If there's one thing I've learned,

One truth I've deciphered

Along this dark and meandering path,

It's this:

If a man cannot create,

He will destroy.


It's funny.

Believe it or not,

This is the first time I've held a gun

Much less fired one.

It feels surprisingly natural.


Once, when I was in ninth grade,

Patrick Rodman brought a handgun to drama class.

He showed it to me after

We had just finished

45 grueling minutes of theater sports.

I didn't know what to think,

He didn't seem crazy to me,

And nothing ended up happening,

But I will never erase that image

Of that shiny steel pistol

So much smaller than I had imagined,

Like a child's toy,

Nestled in the wrinkled flesh of his palm.


I think he died a few years ago.

Maybe not.


More than anything else,

I love the echo

The ricocheting vibrations

Bouncing off the buildings

Like invisible pinball bumpers.

Its beatless staccato is music to my ears,

Spontaneous poetry.


Of course, I missed the apple.

It's forty feet away!

But the good news is

I've got 5 more shots.

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