Country Music
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Kyle Thompson


Real Life in The Gray Market

Boredom was declared illegal.
Everyone went to jail. In jail
They continued to break the law,
So they were fined.

So they went underground.
They started a market
For this kind of activity,
A mix of black and white.

You could buy anything there
On the cheap. All the mainstays
Of a well-heeled life. A job
That connected only so many
Brain cells. A
Flight path that took you
From the office to the house
To the grocery to the school
To the gym to the house
To the office.

The priciest thing there
They kept in a back room.
It'd cost you an arm and a
Leg, plus a head.

It was a packaged deal.
To be a welcome bidder
You had to pony in
For the office to the house
To the grocery to the gym
To the house to the school
To the office.
Get that daily round
And get on it, and let it
Run through you like a story.
Then between the office and house,
Look out,
Or between the grocery and
The school, reach out,
And gliding past
Brush something
Vivid and original and precious.

Touch it and you'd hear it
Singing. Like some mythological
Bird with mixed-up instincts.
A phoenix that has to hit fire
Before it can come out
An ordinary, unscathed

This was the sweet spot.
They called it
The Bliss Peekshow. Their
Motto for it was:
The smallest birds
Are the most subtle.
A little singing
Between wings
As one appointment clicks into another.

Now the cunning part.
The addictive edge of catching
The Good Bird between
Gym and house and office.

How they keep it,
Always out of reach,
Just so. Enough to make
Any regular aspiring Joe
Feel like a weak heel.
Not enterprising or inventive enough
To break ranks
With the obligatory roll
And touch the fruitful
Intensifier of his ear.

Why else was boredom banned?
The ways out were too
Habit forming.

Cruel, though, to
Make it its own punishment.
In jail, behind bars that
Some can look through
And bars that others
Can rest a drink on.

Why not punishable by death?
Then with boredom would come
Great risk. And be
Its own solution. A yawn
Widening to more
Than an office or a house
Or school or grocery or
A house or a school
or an office—ten times
The size of a normal mouthful.

Why not? Because pleasures
Are not so equal
Or simple. The curse
That they need
Is that they have to earn it.
And the history of their happiness,
An underground
In real life.