Andrew McAlpine

Andrew McAlpine is a writer and teacher living in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. His poems have appeared in The Atlas Review and Route Nine. He is a member of the Connecticut River Valley Poets' Theater and plays Henchman #1 in their current production, an adaptation of the film Fast Five.

QUANDARY OF THE BIG STICK

The current is an idea more than a force, a shared wishing
that can pull the waves this way & that, the shells below
vibrating in their indecision. You surfed the Panama Canal
once, shot through the continents, meditated on the gnarly
means by which a people can link oceans. A purloined slice
of dirt & brush can be called a country in these circumstances.
When the people collect under any sun they can be called
a real threat. You ran arms once, hauling guns across a border
in order to release them into the wild. Their triggers in want of
a fresh fingerprint, something to show they have been touched.

*

The plane dropped to the earth, knowing the proper response
to a punctured wing. The passengers agreed this was a reasonable
course of action. The passengers linked arms in propriety, knowing
this was the recommended way of facing their end. To live well
is to imagine a graceful exit to this & every other room. A party
requires a set of streamers, an exact number of champagne flutes.
The party imagined its occupants in vibration, bump & grind, a field
of tiny pleasures. It knew a toast would bring its tenure to a halt.

*

You said you believed in the supremacy of the individual. A voice
different from all other voices, the din below not a crowd crying
for vengeance but a peaceable assembly of torches. Each one hollered
a note toward the balcony. The tense here is of the recent past, events
puzzled over & laid out on the kitchen table. You cleared the plates,
scraping silverware against the marble slab. The meal no longer a field
of possibility but a mere digesting. The windows rattled in approval.