The day is made up of language the way
everything is made up of something else.
The way from the street the woman
in the window of Big Mama’s wearing
a Spiritual Gangster t-shirt, waiting for her
burrito, writing in a notebook is writing
I love you all, I imagine, because,
spiritually speaking, I love you all
is gangster, even if it can only be true
in a limited way. In a limited way, I can
imagine believing in this slogan as metaphor,
and if so, I imagine I might feel moved to stop
and to say to the woman that on certain days
I too feel like a scribbler waiting for my
spiritual burrito to be ready, and we might
commune, without irony, over the cosmic
rightness of this comparison. It’s hard
to love everybody, we might say knowingly.
Yeah, but don’t you also sometimes feel,
she might ask, like a gangster waiting
for your spiritual burrito to be ready and ready
or not you’re going to get up and fucking
take what’s yours, spiritually speaking?
You know, sometimes I do, I can imagine
myself saying, while feeling concerned
that our meaning-making has gone too far.
How do you make a slogan yours?
I would want to ask her. Is this language
permanently you? How do you choose?
She would be clearly concerned
at my flimsy commitment to our motto.
I imagine I shouldn’t have stopped.
It is hard to love everybody, I might say again,
before I left her to her burrito and notebook.
The stream of language that makes up the day
hurries on, sweeping the woman and her t-shirt
away, sweeping away me. I don’t resist.
Patrick Swaney lives in Athens, OH, where is completing a PhD in poetry. He is the editor of Quarter After Eight. His work has appeared in Conduit, Indiana Review, The Southeast Review, and elsewhere.