Restless Leg Syndrome

Yesterday I be­came en­thralled with James Tate’s po­et­ry. Thanks go out to this MeFi post. I’ve got to get my mitts on a book of his stuff and then maybe he’ll grab a spot next to E.E. Cummings and Richard Brautigan. Here is a po­em of his.

Restless Leg Syndrome

After the bur­ial
we re­turned to our units
and as­sumed our pos­es.
Our pos­ture was the new pos­ture
and not the old sick pos­ture.
When we left our sta­tions
it was just to prove we could,
not a se­ri­ous de­par­ture
or a search for yet an­oth­er be­gin­ning.
We were done with all that.
We were set­tled in, as they say,
though it might have been oth­er­wise.
What a sto­ry!
After the bur­ial we re­turned to our units
and here is where I am ex­pe­ri­enc­ing
that lag kick­ing syn­drome thing.
My leg, for no ap­par­ent rea­son,
flies around the room kick­ing stuff,
well, what­ev­er is in its way,
like a screen or a wa­ter­ing can.
Those are just two ex­am­ples
and in­deed I could give many more.
I could con­struct a cat­a­logue
of the things it kicks,
per­haps I will do that lat­er.
We’ll just have to see if it’s re­al­ly want­ed.
Or I could do a lit­tle now
and then re­turn to list­ing lat­er.
It kicked the scrimshaw col­lec­tion,
yes it did. It kicked the ocelot,
which was rude and un­called for,
and yes hurt­ful. It kicked
the gua­camole right out of its bowl,
which made for a grub­by
and po­ten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous work­place.
I was out test­ing the new speed bump
when it kicked the Viscountess,
which she prob­a­bly de­served,
and I was hap­py, need­less to say,
to not be a wit­ness.
The kick­ing sub­sided for a while,
no­body was keep­ing track of time
at that time so it is im­pos­si­ble
to fill out the forms ac­cu­rate­ly.
Suffice it to say we re­mained
at our units on con­stant alert.
And then it kicked over the lit­tle cow town
we had set up for punch­ing and that sort of thing,
a cov­ered wag­on filled with cov­er girls.
But now it was kicked over
and we had a mo­ment of si­lence,
but it was clear to me
that many of our min­ions
were get­ting tetchy
and some of them were get­ting tetch­i­er.
And then it kicked a par­tic­u­lar­ly trea­sured snuff box
which, leg­end has it, once be­longed to some­body
named Bob Mackey, so we were un­der­stand­ably
sad­dened and re­turned to our units rather weary.
No one seemed to think I was in the least bit cul­pa­ble.
It was my leg, of course, that was do­ing the ac­tu­al kick­ing,
of that I am al­most cer­tain.
At any rate, we de­cid­ed to bury it.
After the bur­ial we re­turned to our units
and as­sumed our pos­es.
A lit­tle bit of time passed, not much,
and then John’s leg start­ed act­ing sus­pi­cious.
It looked like it want­ed to kick the repli­ca
of the White House we keep on hand
just for sit­u­a­tions such as this.
And then, sure enough, it did.

-James Tate

2 thoughts on “Restless Leg Syndrome

  1. tate. heh, yes. 

    i have WORSHIPFUL COMPANY OF FLETCHERS at home if you would like to bor­row it.

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