Couple Hundred

I wrote this poem a few months back and thought it an appropriate way to inaugurate my new blog. Another platform! Thanks for reading.

Wrote a couple books
Sold a couple hundred
Friends and family, mostly,
And the odd online passerby

Recorded an album
Gave away a couple hundred.

Made a movie
Couple hundred saw it.

Uploaded videos
Couple hundred views.

Social networked
Couple hundred friends.

Was in a band once;
Played a couple hundred times
Once to a couple hundred people.

Couple hundred newspaper columns
Read by a couple hundred subscribers.

So this is just how it’s going to go.
So easily swatted away by the receptionist
Of the A&R man
Or the producer
Or the agent, or publisher, or agent’s representative’s receptionist.
“That’s far enough, young man / older man / old man.”
“Your unopened screenplay is enclosed.”
“We thank you for your interest.”
“Please place dreams in proper receptacle.”
“And as a parting gift,
“Please accept this best-selling hardback memoir
“By a sixteen-year-old pop singer.”

It’s not about the money, see.
After all, I’m sitting here writing a poem,
Aren’t I?
Though a little might be nice.
(Could live without the mice.)

And what do I want with fame, anyway?
Is it anything but a shortcut
To false, asymmetrical friendships?
Temptations and infidelities?
The pestering of fans and proteges?
Feigned disdain for the paparazzi?
Buffet of addictions?
A petri dish for narcissism?
Thank you. Thank you, reality television.

And if not money,
And if not fame,
Then perhaps
Influence, IMPACT, legacy!

What is this?
To touch the minds of a swarming billion,
Time Person of the Year style?
Couple hundred?
Where is that line?
Who sat at power’s apex
A century ago?
Victoria? She of empire already long gone?
Some pope, riding in a gold-leaf carriage?
Chanting in a dead language?
Colluding with the things that are Caesar’s?
Few would care. Fewer would know.

And which of today’s hugest of A-listers
Will we blank on the name of
During a board game half a century hence?
Heads of state, saints and geniuses
Reduced one and all
To flotsam dispersing ever farther
On a boundless factoid sea
Ever outranked in search engines by memes
Each more vacuous and vulgar than the last.
Does this sorry fate not await
The greatest in every field?

And in the grandest scheme
For which we zoom out and out and out
To the broadest cosmic vista
In which every deed no matter what is reduced
To a solitary pixel,
A tip of the hat shines the same
As a thousand-year crusade,
And vice versa.
A lowered eyebrow on par with a grisly pogrom,
The genre-birthing masterpiece and margin doodle
Weigh the same in that great beyond.
Not that we shouldn’t try,
But still.

In the end,
(Why do we say that, when there is no such thing?)
When the water of spacetime is boiled away,
All that is left of anything,
Like salt on the bottom
Of a seaside pan,
Is love.
It is all that rests below the fraction’s horizon,
The only enduring denominator, common or not.

All this notwithstanding,
I still want a book deal.

–A.S., July 2011

One comment on “Couple Hundred

  1. zumpoems says:

    Great last stanza — sort of recap of the poem and made me chuckle. This reads very smoothly — like a narrative. Enjoyed this!

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