The Life That Became a Fool

By Gianmarc Manzione
Originally published in The Modern Review 1.2 (2005): 35-36.

These are the facts
that frightened me: a certainty

that was helplessness, a resignation
that was panic, not because this was the end

of my life, but because no attention to necessity,
no obedience to the urges

with which I invented myself, ever accomplished
as much as that mockery of it:

an ovation of papers
fluttering around the office

which, with their sudden meaninglessness,
quietly made a fool of my life.

The disaster itself—
he plane that scissored through

the building, the stench of fuel
so thick I tried to savor it—

were nothing
to my more local circumstance,

my chance to choose
a final tactic, to jump

or to burn, to know how it would end,
already removed from my life

but, for the moment, still living, a terror
in which I nearly managed to accept

my death when, standing at the ledge
of a blown-out window, knowing what I had

to do, I almost considered the beauty
of the morning, its tawdry consolation

for waking me out of my life,
and then my body, my adversary,

merely a way out now, a tossed package
falling, an expiration.