At the Merry-Go-Round
"does he guess what he appears
know: where all is bad it must be
good to bless the worst?"
Richard Howard, Lining Up
daughter wants to spend all day here
the merry-go-round, but I’d prefer
she go once and cherish the memory
forever. I’m willing to remind her.
would like to raise her with just the right
combination of lies and apologies
keep her from publishing her memoirs.
She asks where meat comes from and I say, oh,
magic orchards. In a few years I’ll explain
that if god didn’t want animals
processed on disassembly lines,
they wouldn’t be so apolitical.
daughter believes in god. I once
sued god for malpractice but was counter-
sued for theft: my existence is not my own
any more than my D.N.A. I lost
the case on appeal. God donated my
money to those who chain themselves to trees,
their tribal elders, as it were, gone mute.
also hear that people still save whales,
but I assured my daughter that when whales
are eliminated someone will start
cable channel about them. Such
promises prevent radicalism
the young. She should learn to express her
moral beliefs as financial investments,
like militant ex-hippies. Prisons are
good investment these days. My broker
has spent time in several and, ever
eager to profit from his misfortune,
wants to create a line of charter schools
based on principles of solitary
confinement. Such pedagogies enhance
I’m not against educating my daughter.
try to make her daily life as much
like a standardized test as possible
she’ll get into college. She’s punished
for ambiguity, historical
relativism and other common
with the obvious exception
the electoral college. I don’t
have anything against democracy,
but don’t understand why we need it now
that the Dow Jones is over ten-thousand.
Not that I own stock. I’ve hated abstract
forms of property ever since my ex-
wife accused me of treating her like one.
tried to earn interest on our
emotional exchanges until she
became a communist and redistributed
our emotions to others. I told
daughter that communists don’t really
exist, but if they did, they’d nationalize
business. I run a consulting firm
for suicidal celebrities seeking
mythic deaths. Sometimes I worry life bores
daughter, so I pretend the lottery
illegal, that we buy our tickets
risky deals with vicious criminals.
Same with my weekend heroin. In the
meantime, the Supreme Court has decided
that Manhattan and Beverly Hills
revert to Indian tribal ownership,
starting tomorrow. Location, location,
location. The Supreme Court also upheld
new federal law requiring
the upper and lower classes to switch
every five years. My daughter cried at the news
I doubled the ritalin. We’re on a
family prescription. The historians
are debating if any tragedies
foreshadowed these farces, as suggested
certain newsletters. The Support Groups
for the Perplexed are taking to the streets.
The walk-a-thons have refused to go home
until everything is cured. My daughter,
whom I love as much as I know how,
has started a nationwide trend of referring
one’s parents in the conditional tense.
fear a new wave of grammatical
terrorism. It feels like another
transitional moment in history.
that case, the nation will need more barbed
wire, although we’ll disagree over
which neighborhoods to put it in. Maybe
all of them, so that we always feel at home
and never feel at work, or vice versa.
Maybe everyone will get confused
and go on strike at once, repeating the Great
Tree Climbing Riots of 1993,
when no one was left on the ground but
the dead we had forgotten to bury.
David Sherman teaches literature and
writing in New York City, where he lives with his wife and his
baby daughter; he considers it somehow appropriate that the
latter was conceived and born long after this poem. His
work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, The
Minnesota Review, The Iowa Review (forthcoming), and