Sunmark Industries, $94.03...
Jim is paying his bills.
He writes out a check
and edges it into the envelope
provided by the company.
They always make them too small.
The print in the little box
in the top right hand corner informs him:
"The Post Office will not deliver
mail without proper postage."
They seem to know that the public
is composed of thieves and half-wits.
He seals the last envelope,
licks a stamp, sticks in on,
and with a feeling of virtue,
a necessary task accomplished,
takes the checks out to the mailbox.
It's a cool, clear night in Fall,
lights flickering through the leaves.
He thinks, all these families
with their situation comedies:
husbands writing checks,
wives studying fund-raising,
children locked in their rooms
listening to the music that appeals to them,
remind me of...fireflies
that shine for a night and die.
Of all these similar houses
what shall be left? Not even stones.
One could almost understand the pharaohs
with their pyramids and obelisks.
Every month when he pays his bills
Jim Bandy becomes a philosopher.
The rest of the time he's OK.
Jim has a hobby: fishing.
Last year he flew to Alaska.
Cold the salmon stream,
dark the Douglas firs,
and the pure stars are cold.
A bear came out of the forest.
Jim had two salmon...he threw one
but the bear kept coming.
He threw the other...it stopped.
The fish that are most memorable
he mounts, with a brass plate
giving the name and place and date:
Chinook Salmon, Red Salmon,
Brown Trout, Grouper,
They do a lot of drinking in Alaska.
He saw thirty or forty lying drunk
in the street. And on the plane...
They cannot stand living in Alaska,
and he cannot stand Long Island
without flying to Alaska.