- Alan Soldofsky
from Charts (For The End of Days)
Why not say what really happened?
I want to begin to say what we heard
on the news. Though there were different versions,
three people died. Shot to death on the fifth
floor of the 10th Street Garage. The forbidding
one, where you could vanish trying to get out.
Some said the alert system didn’t work,
or worked alright for some. Some heard six or eight
shots. A few in houses nearby said they
heard two rounds of popping sounds. Dozens
of others were on the sidewalk wondering
what happened. While others still in classrooms
reported they heard nothing.
We don’t know anything yet about them—
their names, their ages, sex. Only that they were
connected to the university,
their lives unnoticed announced by their deaths.
It was reported that two earthquakes, 4.5
and 5.1, struck near the town of Lorca,
Spain. Twenty thousand buildings damaged.
The Red Cross said it took 350
ambulances to evacuate the town’s two hospitals,
a medieval town located near a fault that runs
beneath the blue Mediterranean, where the European
and African plates converge. The second
the worst, occurring at 6:47 P.M. local time—
that’s 5:47 P.M. in London; 12:47 A.M. in New York;
9:47 P.M. in San José, CA. The garage
blocked off. Police still swarming.
I take pills for what ails me: Lisinsopril
for high blood pressure, Ranitidine for
acid reflux, to kill the ratty aftertaste
of esophagus. I don’t sleep lying down,
tasting what gravity brings up. Kaiser
wants to keep me alive, though I don’t like
them really. There are tests that I avoid, though
it would be wise to know what might be
prevented from killing me. But I’d rather not.
The dead have been identified, accounting
majors, honor students, 25 and 26. The young man
walked his classmate to her car on the fifth
floor of the garage, where they were met by
the young woman’s husband, 54, shooting.
All are Filipino Americans. They
were found in a black Mercedes, the husband
found shot and gravely wounded a short
distance away. A handgun at his side.
He died at the hospital. The husband had been
married before, and divorced in 2003.
It was known he had filed for bankruptcy,
that he had worked in research and development
for a medical-device company according to the
Chronicle. There was an audible gasp,
it was reported, at the news conference
when officials said both were on the verge
of graduating. The professor who taught
them said it was domestic violence
that had spilled over, that he was in the wrong
place at the wrong time. The young man was married,
an avid golfer, and worked as an accounts payable
analyst for Oracle Corp. and on campus as a student
assistant. A motive for the shooting is unknown.
In 1967 Lou Reed sang “I guess that I just
don’t know.” … “Thank God I’m as good
as dead and thank your God that I’m not aware
and thank God that I just don’t care.”
How could he have known it would be a hit?
The San Jose Sharks defeated the Detroit
Red Wings 3 – 2 in the seventh and deciding
game, earning them a berth in the Conference
Final against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Sharks up 2 – 0 in the first period,
were leading 3 -1 in the third when
the Wings attempted a furious comeback
but fell short, unable to score on their last
power play. The Sharks had gone up
in the series 3 – 0, but had lost the next three
so the series was tied 3 games to 3
going into the seventh game. Patrick Marleau
scored the Shark’s third goal with 7:47 left to
play and helped the Sharks avoid their biggest
collapse yet. His coach Todd McClellan
said, “I think the monkey may be off his
back for the next series” Marleau grew up
on his family’s farm near Aneroid, Saskatchewan,
but was born in Swift Current. There is no
hospital in Aneroid. He didn’t
want to take the blame if the Sharks had choked.
With the heads of all big five oil companies
watching, a Democratic U.S. Senator
played video of a hearing from 2005
where oil company executives said they
didn’t need government tax breaks. The Chevron
Corporation Chairman and CEO said the
companies didn’t want special tax benefits—
just benefits that other industries
get. Oil now sells for more than $100 a barrel.
Chevron is projected only to make
a $123 billion profit this year.
One in five U.S. workers are at least
in their mid-fifties, and 29 million
are 55 years or older. Author
Marc Freeman said on the PBS
“Nightly Business Report” that that they work
is a virtue out of necessity.
You can decide for yourself whether you
believe Friday the 13th brings bad luck.
The idea appears to have taken
hold in the twentieth century, its
sources, likely of late medieval
origin, can be traced back as far as the
ancient Egyptians, for whom we are told
13 symbolized death, the final stage
of ascension to the afterlife. Or it
could go back to vilified matriarchal
beliefs, the 13 lunar—menstrual—cycles.
Some trace the fear back to the Vikings, when
12 gods were invited to a banquet
in Vahalla, and Loki—the Evil One—
crashed the party and wreaked havoc.
The Norse continued to believe that 13
people at a dinner party is bad luck.
Which may also come from a Christian source,
there being 13 present at Christ’s last
supper, which took place incidentally,
on a Friday. Friday already had a bad
rap; it was the day Eve tempted Adam
with the apple. The great flood began on
Friday, Solomon’s temple was destroyed
on Friday. And of course Christ was
crucified on Friday, which is also
the Sabbath for non-Christians. Orthodox
Jews for instance and Muslims do not indulge
in worldly activities less they be
denied the divine blessing. Early Christians
went to great lengths to suppress them as heathens.
Jews some claim were also arrayed into
13 tribes, and for Jews 13 is said to
be a lucky number. For Jews 13
signifies the age of bar mitzvah, and
according to Moses Maimonides,
the number of the faith’s principles. In
1907, Thomas William Lawson,
published Friday, the Thirteenth, a novel
about how a broker, cashing in on
the superstition caused panic in the
stock market. That book’s sales took off
allowing the press to popularize
the phobia mounting behind it.
Three months after the ouster of Hosni
Murbarak, a crime wave has swept over
Egypt. Neighbors reported they watched
as about 80 prisoners, some
according to the New York Times clad only
in underwear, brandishing guns, machetes,
even a fire extinguisher, burst through
the police station’s doors, as shots rang out.
The police are afraid. At least five jailbreaks
and increasing disorder have led to talk
of a new crackdown. A colleague is leaving
for Egypt tomorrow to meet with Egyptian
poets. An Interior Ministry
official said that everyday prisoners
attempt to escape. Newspapers “brim”
with episodes of violence: Muslim-
Christian riots, churches in flames; soccer
fans who crashed a field and mauled the opposing
team; mob attacks on upscale suburbs;
Bedouin abductions of police in the Sinai.
This, what journalists dubbed “the Arab Spring.”
Cardinals’ manager Toni La Russa
was diagnosed by the Mayo Clinic
with shingles, MLB announced on Tuesday.
La Russa will miss the rest of the road trip
to allow the medication to take effect.
Bench Coach Joe Pettini said “La Russa’s
condition had reached the point where something
had to be done. He’s in been in agony.”
The entire right side of his face swollen,
it was an effort for him just to keep
his eyes open. If you’ve had chicken pox
as a kid you can get shingles. We’re told
a million Americans get shingles
each year, and that one third of us will get
it in our lifetimes. Shingles is most common
for people over 50. The Centers
for Disease Control recommend vaccine
for people over 60. Probably
I should go to Kaiser now, get a shot.
These three sections are from a much longer work. Read more about the poem in our interview with Alan Soldofsky here.
Alan Soldofsky is the author of the 2013 collection of poems, In the Buddha Factory (Truman State University Press). With David Koehn, he is coeditor of Compendium: A Collection of Thoughts About Prosody, by Donald Justice. He is a professor of English and Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at San Jose State University.
Image courtesy of Artur Rydzewski