What I could be

‘SHADOW SELF(IE)’: | Huntington Mall parking lot, Barboursville, W.Va. | october2023 | Thestoryisthething.com Asphalt Bureau


by Douglas John Imbrogno

I could be the man the boy
dreamed of being. I could be the
boy the man dreams of remembering.

I could be the man who saved his mother.
I could be the man who fought his father,
who finally and everlastingly

thrummed some sense into
that thick Latinate, hot-blooded,
black-haired head.

I could conjure a long-dreamed swain,
the inamorato, swooning alone in this
otherwise gratified conjugal kip.

I could be the writer he dreamed of being
at 13, thumbing ‘Cien Anos de Soledad,
the original title he learned to say

after tumbling down
the deep rabbitholes of
One Hundred Years of Solitude.

I could be the father my father never was,
although he raised us well as may be —
or was able. Didn’t do a half-bad job,

in the end. And I’m that good father,
the decent man he was. Mostly.
With several hiccups

and catastrophes
sprinkled like pepper flakes
on a bowl of red tomato soup.

I could learn finally to speak more
than kindergarten French: ‘Il est difficile
de parler français en Amérique,

mais c’est un une langue
si belle qu’elle fait
mal au cœur …’

I could be the Man, the One,
the Influencer of Influencers,
the Mentor, the Mentee, the

New York Times Profilee,
the Profiler, the Raconteur, the
Dissembler, the Griot, the Scribe.

Wait. I have been at least
half of those words. So,
good job, reach up

and pat yourself
on your shoulder.

I could be done.
Done with all this striving.
But how?

How do we finally look
frenzied False Will in the eyes
— those red-rimmed eyes —

filled with such ferocious
ambition and the urge to
sway the world our way.

Doesn’t everyone want to rule the world?
Tin scepter of Ego held high
attracting lightning bolts of fame …

But I could be enough.
I don’t want to boss the world.
What a lot of work.

It could just be enough.
And that would be enough
of the enough.

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