The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Ron Slate

Your Loyalty Is Forgotten

Whatever ennobles the long drive with pear trees
planted because they flower without failure
is of a spectral nature.

There is too much space between the trees
along the half-mile drive up to headquarters.

Seven years after my departure from that place,
they call, asking for testimony on their behalf.
Up the cursive drive, the trees measured out.

In that former time of audacious action,
the corridors and offices filled with propellant --
whatever had been closely considered,
peered at, observed over and over again –
it was only a glimpse.

The Commissioner’s voice crackles on the speakerphone –
“What did you mean by ‘virtually worthless’?”

Freckles on the forearm of the corporate lawyer –

Dearest, wherever I am you must be in my thoughts,
which is why I am writing to you at my chief’s desk,
while sitting in for him …
Kafka, who recorded the judgments
of commissioners, wrote to Felice.

Whatever had been but glimpsed
now settles in the mind like shredded documents.

The others, across the table, collect their papers.
The other shore doesn’t need
my gaze. No one remembers
the old loyalty or how many
breaths it consumed.

A strictly secret reason for agreeing to return.

With whom can this joy
of dual impostures be shared, caring
and not caring about what they did with the landscaping?




RON SLATE has published two books of poems, The Incentive of the Maggot and The Great Wave, both via Houghton Mifflin. Since 2007, he has been reviewing literature at a site called “On the Seawall.” He recently became a board member of Mass Humanities (NEH state affiliate) and lives in Milton and Aquinnah, MA.



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