On April 16th, I got off work early and went to the park. The day was bright and clear, and as I walked, I found myself singing this song called “Sailor Song”, by Regina Spektor, just because I was happy and it’s big fun to walk and sing. Anyway, I got to the park, and there was hardly anybody there, which is rare, so I let Atticus off his leash and he frolicked and charged me like a bull and got to chase a squirrel. Then I saw these ducks in the public pool and I thought, “Well isn’t that handy, you lucky duckwads!” Right by a gutter, I found a crumpled up five dollar bill, and then I saw the first robin’s egg of the season. It was a day of great good fortune.
The next day, a bunch of people were at a race, watching their friends and family perform feats of mental and physical fortitude with pride and excitement, cheering them on to the finish, and some asshole tries to the blow them up. Then West, Texas, Home of the colache at The Czech Inn blew up. Then George Bush, who was responsible for a lot of people who either blew things up or got blown up got a library dedicated to him.
That’s the thing about luck. It’s so chaotically random. It can be serendipitous and satisfying, or heartbreakingly cruel.
I used to be really into luck, but lately I’ve been thinking it’s a real bitch.
“Could Have”, by Wislawa Szymborska
It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Nearer. Farther off.
It happened, but not to you.You were saved because you were the first.
You were saved because you were the last.
Alone. With others.
On the right. The left.
Because it was raining. Because of the shade.
Because the day was sunny.
You were in luck — there was a forest.
You were in luck — there were no trees.
You were in luck — a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake,
A jamb, a turn, a quarter-inch, an instant . . .
So you’re here? Still dizzy from
another dodge, close shave, reprieve?
One hole in the net and you slipped through?
I couldn’t be more shocked or
how your heart pounds inside me.
If I ever get a fish, I’m going to name it Marianne. OHHHH! MARIANNE’S A FISH! MARIANNE’S A FISH!
Bonus poem – NOTE- This one is, to papraphrase the words of David St. Hubbins, of the famous band Spinal Tap, “too much fucking perspective!”
The Terrorist, He Watches
By Wislawa Szymborska
The bomb will go off in the bar at one twenty p.m.
Now it’s only one sixteen p.m.
Some will still have time to get in,
Some to get out.
The terrorist has already crossed to the other side of the street.
The distance protects him from any danger,
And what a sight for sore eyes:
A woman in a yellow jacket, she goes in.
A man in dark glasses, he comes out.
Guys in jeans, they are talking.
One seventeen and four seconds.
That shorter guy’s really got it made, and gets on a scooter,
And that taller one, he goes in.
One seventeen and forty seconds.
That girl there, she’s got a green ribbon in her hair.
Too bad that bus just cut her off.
One eighteen p.m.
The girl’s not there any more.
Was she dumb enough to go in, or wasn’t she?
That we’ll see when they carry them out.
One nineteen p.m.
No one seems to be going in.
Instead a fat baldy’s coming out.
Like he’s looking for something in his pockets and
at one nineteen and fifty seconds
he goes back for those lousy gloves of his.
It’s one twenty p.m.
The time, how it drags.
Should be any moment now.
Yes, this is it.
The bomb, it goes off.
These poems come from her View With a Grain of Sand, byWislawa Szymborska, translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1996)