June 25, 2007
On the day they found you, Disneyland
shut down It’s a Small World,
but only the music and the lights. People
watched, stunned, the doll children dance
to the hum of their own motors
and splashing water, lit only
by the faint, red exit sign. So popular,
extra line-holding ropes were flown in
from Hong Kong. Cast members
have been told to contravene. Sometimes
they answer, “We were closed that day.”
On the day they found you, a teenager
across the street had written on my car,
SO MATERIAL A DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE,
NOT WHAT ILLS ARE SUFFERED, BUT
WHAT KIND OF MAN SUFFERS THEM.
The milkman said, “I heard they’re gonna
Photoshop him out of the tapes, just like
the old logo.” I said, “I don’t think that’s funny.”
He said, “It is. You want this milk or not?”
I sat on the front step and drank
the full bottle, watching The Price Is Right
through the neighbors’ window.
I haven’t mentioned the graffiti yet.
On the day they found you, fat weathermen
in no less than nine major cities
forewent their presentations altogether
to perform Schoenberg’s A Survivor
from Warsaw a capella. Each insists
it dawned on him to do so at the moment,
but was not surprised about the others.
Only one anchor, in Cincinnati, tried
to stop him. She’s been graciously
transferred to a mailroom at a partner station.
I read on Wikipedia that Naxos
was compiling an album, but I can’t find that
anymore. It might have been a prank.
On the day they found you, my football coach
was voiceless. Having tried in vain
to draw some Xs on the chalkboard,
he put down the chalk
and watched us breathe. I thought
I saw him mouth, “I’m sorry.”
Finally the quarterback stood up,
picked up the chalk, and scribbled
integral formulas. First the basic ones
from college, then some tougher ones.
He’d fill the board and quickly smear it
with his arm and start again, until the board
was only a large, white, dusty rectangle.
On the day they found you, priests
gave their flocks choke holds and the tooth fairy
gave my niece No Way Out 2006. She told me
that she would be a wrestler when she grew up.
I didn’t tell her it had been the day
I’d finally stopped wanting to grow up
and be a wrestler, but Chris, I did give her
a suplex and locked her leg until she tapped,
almost in tears from laughter.
On the day they found you, I
couldn’t even think of anyone
to call, so I watched some matches
online. They’d Photoshopped
you out, just like the old logo, so Triple H
writhed in your invisible arms,
and when he finally tapped, they played
your music and the crowd around
the empty ring chanted bleeps.
The title is a text message Chris Benoit sent a neighbor shortly before his death. The poem is an elergy where an elegy is not possible.
Originally published in Sorry for Snake issue 4.