Suddenly you are a cartoon

Suddenly you are
A cartoon.

A moment ago
You were as serious as the species gets,
A bit dangerous.

Now you are little more
Than a stick figure
Gesticulating stiffly,
Alone and ridiculous
On a wavy horizon line.

People come into the frame.

Of course
They are
Who they always are,
These regular folks.

They regard you
With that mixture of
Awe, Amusement, Anger and Alarm
That comes over us
When only words beginning with A’s
Will stop the pounding
In your head.

“Ha ha hee hee!”
Read the words
In the thought balloon.

Some people avert their eyes,
Embarrassed to intrude on you this way.
The horizon line
Grabs wildly at their ankles.

But most of them
-- are they morbid types or voyeurs or what?
-- they hang around to see what dirt
Will reveal itself
In the air shaking like jello above your head.

I am one of them, I admit,
Even if I am the one who drew you this way.

Who knows why?
But we expect fireworks
From you of all people.
We want a mandala of obscene exclamation points
And lines of filthy typographical symbols
To explode from you
As you jump up and down on the dented world.

We expect the worst of you, old boy,
A real show.

You won’t disappoint us now
Will you?

We laugh and laugh
When gobs of sweat finally
Radiate from your silly exposure.

We applaud
The awkward dance
Of your darkest memories,
Your best lies and most splendid treasons.

Take comfort, my friend,
You are in the Basic Place.
Make yourself at home.

Hung out to dry
On the clothesline of the horizon,
You are as transparent now
As we ever get,
Real and comical as all get-out,
Brain-dead and elemental as sunlight.

You are recovering from yourself now

And every other
Little thing.

                                              -- Mexico City, 4 July 1998

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