A man folded his legs in the middle of the stadium. His head was bald, and his clothes were simple. He was not a monk. He had a simple job, and he loved his family. He was an entirely average specimen of humanity, who had never tried to stand out in any way.

Two thousand people watched from their seats, holding soda bottles, wearing baseball caps and t shirts. Some of them ate popcorn and licked their lips. They were bored, hungry, and as average as the man sitting in the middle of the stadium, on the green field of grass. Some of them started to sit up in their seats. They were about to not be average.

The lights around the outside of the stadium dimmed, and a traffic light descended from the ceiling. 3. 2. 1.

A clock started, and the stadium erupted with laughter. Some people threw their drinks at the man with his legs folded in the middle of the stadium. Small children made hooting noises, young adults let their pretensions drop, and the old shrieked their laughter at the man in the center of the auditorium. It was like music.

The eyes of the man were closed. The lines of his face grew more pronounced, but he did not react in any other way. His hands lay relaxed on either side of his body, palms open.

The clock told the audience that two minutes had passed, and they cheered. A large television screen descended from the ceiling, slowly. The audience was silent for a moment, waiting. Then the man’s whole life spilled onto the screen. His childhood memories were on the screen first, then his adolescence, then the events of his adulthood. And their laughter rose to the clouds.

Meeting Places: Part I


Clouds

gather and swell, updraft finds downdraft,
and the sun slips into the rain smell
of dark morning. On the compound
British oilmen load liquor into Land Rovers.
The road is quiet, but for the Doppler of dust,
leading or following the wake of pick-ups.

In the cloud-shade I sweat, the furnace
of hot wind dries salt lines into my arms.
The earth flattens before me and walls rise
random as crop circles, cinder blocking
parcels of land into a quilt of concrete.
I walk in shorts and sandals, despite

the broken glass, tossed from car windows,
and the curious cake of dirt and skin.
At the gas station, the oasis of a/c,
drivers never turn off their cars
as Indians pump high-octane gas,
cheaper than Pepsi, into their tanks.

I will probably not do more than this today.

In the ten minutes it took to buy smokes
the clouds melt in the noon sun
like snowflakes drifting into a lake
Every morning they appear to disappear
like the trucks lost in the heat ripples
more mirage than machine, growling

engines could be north or south,
racing their own feeble noise.
Tonight my smoke will rise to the wisps,
the last survivors of the pack, who feed
on the stars, this and every night,
gray zygotes splitting across the sky.

At home the clouds move, migrate
from one corner of the horizon
to the next, but here they die,
and I find myself wishing I could float
up to administer their last rites,
listen to the hiss and tumble
as the last tribes of cumulonimbus
are decimated by the day.


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