American Exceptionalism
Kerry James Evans

American Exceptionalism

There are days when I can’t even dress right.
I’ve gone to work shirt inside out, fly down,
watch on the wrong wrist, retracing my steps
with the diffidence of a politician,
light bulbs burning out as soon as I walk
beneath them, rain that rains for what seems months
and only ends upon my entering
an office that has somehow confused itself
for a recycling bin—leaky ceiling
dripping asbestos water on paper
that could have been used for any purpose
save that for which it serves, each word or phrase
advancing like penguins across a vast
white plain, only to retrace their steps,
and what do they find but a frozen egg?
I’m not trying to complain. I simply
want to know why I wake with feet for hands
some days, why my jump shot never goes down,
or why I fail to notice how lucky
I am to I am on this toasty rock—
to sing my bad song on my worst of days
and know that it’s still a song, and to some
lovely person, who woke cross-eyed and lonely,
it might harmonize like a butterfly
surfing a tornado through a Kansas
wheat field, which I can’t truly picture
without complicating (a butterfly
zigzags like a sleepwalking toddler). It’s true,
but there are many truths, the least of which
begins each morning, sun blazing like the
most organized lunatic at the office,
who gives it his all and expects nothing.

Kerry James Evans

is the author of Bangalore (Copper Canyon Press). He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.