Flamenco at the Thirsty Bear. Jim Gunshinan

About Jim Gunshinan

 • The Artificial Heart
 • Heroes
 • Geography Lessons
 • Blue Cornflowers
 • Living by Water
 • Upon This Rock
 • The Man Dad Brought
    Home from the War
 • Physics
 • Black and White
 • Not the Mom We Were
    Used To
 • Nothing Sacred
 • Spring
 • Transformation
 • Please Straighten That Up
 • Up from Depression
 • What the Body Wants
 • Compassion
 • Commute
 • Kiss Me
 • Starter Castles
 • Flamenco at the Thirsty
 • A Nature Poem
 • Portrait of a Woman from
   the Gardens of Egypt in the
   First Century



Please Straighten That Up

I loved to look down that long hallway
after I’d washed and waxed it, admiring
the smoothness and shine of it. It was
the closest thing to heaven I knew.

Once, while it was still wet with wax
a small army of eighty-five-pound
football players
rained out of their practice

came charging down the gleaming hallway
all helmets, shoulder pads and cleats.
Another lesson in—
Nothing stayed perfect

after Tommy’s year in Vietnam
Frank’s long hair
rock and roll, the smell of dope
Jimi Hendrix blasting through the house

Dad yelling, Turn off that goddamn noise.
And burned-up neighborhoods in D.C. we saw
driving down North Capitol Street
and Rhode Island Avenue, on the way

to Griffith Stadium                                        
where we watched the Senators
play baseball on a perfect green
diamond. Looking back

on all that riotous imperfection
I cleaned the hallways
at St. Camillus School.
Janitors for Jesus, we called ourselves

me and the other high school boys.
Now I’m still desperate
to make the world neat and clean
as if it is my duty to order the Universe, keeping death

and all kinds of disorienting
at bay. So far I’ve lost my mother
my innocence and two careers

leaving, though, a number
of clean passageways.

  © Jim Gunshinan, 2013


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