When I Am Old


When I am old I will shoot a fascist general
From the balcony of an old hotel. I will brush
The snow from the railing and rest the barrel.
I see him now, walking in the rose garden
With his wife, then drinking coffee in a sidewalk cafe.
He will have summer; I, winter. I will wear
A beret if my hair falls out. He could be
A retired fascist general who smokes a pipe and walks with his wife,
A dignified old man, such as I hope to be someday myself.

Do not give me a man who solved lives
For a mansion, a mistress, a mercedes. There are
So many, and so many waiting, and it would be worth nothing.
I want a man who killed responsibly, for a shape of the world. He will
Fight the rose on his coat as would a trout a hook
Or a young athlete a disease.
Give me the one who will look up and recognize me.
I will show him the black hole. He is my responsibility.

The concentration camps will not close if neither you nor I kill.
That is a vain hope. Men must feed their families.
The victims fall into their graves like snowflakes.
I imagine that they are intricate but I cannot
Examine them through the window. In my time
A few have fallen into my hands. For love, not this.

I will stay here by the window, thinking of this man,
And of his wife , and of how I will behave before the police.
When it is dark, I will see myself in the glass.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson
This poem was published in Geist and in O Telemachus

Cleaning Anthony’s Apartment


Before spring, near Grimsby, ditches run clean like trout streams,
Our vines are gray. They will be pink next, like flushed, excited skin.
In March there is the flatness that is a big part of trouble.
Anthony’s sisters are helping him scrub his apartment.

He was sick all winter. They raise his laughter like neighbours raise a burned out barn.
He had made a good start. The therapy.
He says now, “I wasn’t so much sick as sad all the time.”
The pills ended the depression. You can wish that life was never mechanical.

Smell of hot vinegar in the coffee-maker, smells of pine oil and beer.
Brock University jackets, damp curly hair, his sisters
Wiping their hands on sweatshirts, the open window,
His bedroom. Anthony clears books from the sills and cleans and shines the windows.
There are wicker baskets for their picnic and for his laundry.

I always wanted to know, what is consecration?
(Here is a scrap of his poetry:
“… panties the colour of a driftwood campfire.”)
His sisters laugh to think of a girl in the apartment.
The dirty clothes are gone. He’s got clean denims and hiking boots.

Laughter, beer and young music,
Bread and stew and pickles and heavy brown two liter bottles of beer
On the white wooden kitchen table where he hopes to write.
His father’s pickup truck is in the yard, its bed full of garbage.

With cleaning any good thing can happen. The sisters feel it too.
I didn’t know what consecration meant. They joked
That he could have a girl up there when they were done.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson