Norman Dubie

The Aspirin Papers


—for Sean


On the white lacquered radio from Manilla

something by Ravel that is so heavily illustrated

it has made you dizzy and nauseous.  The tall villain

from the Kingdom  has been shot through the eye

and your three year-old daughter

paces before the muted hotel television

wringing her hands

and with half-breaths, murmuring,

“Oh, no, he must have had a mother.  Poor man?

Oh, no!”


The dust storm outside is heavy enough to weigh

on you like a very wet snow.

On the phone you said that they lie to us so often

that now only we know the difference.


The wind works an old Tucson granary down the street

to degrees of something like a new silence,


and indifferent.

Jen asks if you couldn’t open the window

just a crack and Amelia is still pacing the room

in the green strobe of the old television.  Off.


The power goes off for a moment and there is a feint

of unconsciousness.  Then all the engines of the world

turning on again.  You look at your wife and say, “Why not.”