Philip Fried: “Confidential Memo”

Confidential Memo

The raid
Since data and deponents were going missing,
I dispatched my agents on a pre-dawn raid
through the brain’s neuronal mega-metropolis,
to seize clues and re-depose witnesses
so I could reconstruct a narrative
and reach a verdict in this years-old case.
Armed with warrants, the agents went in, and returned
not with a flock of biddable witnesses
but with a scattering of laconic exhibits.

The evidence
One yellow crayon, wielded in kindergarten
and possibly still colluding with a hand
to color a cardboard crown so well that no
gap would mar the glowing waxy surface
_____Who ordered this job and for what unspoken purpose
_____outside the lawful borders of the blackboard?

One bowlegged yellow plastic cowboy, lost
beneath a car seat, having survived so many
shoot-outs, brought back from the totaled car by father,
tight-lipped and ghost-white after his passenger died
_____What can we read into this stoic one’s silence
_____regarding the darkness, the rain-slicked road, and the skid?

One yellow rain slicker with hood and chemical
odor, synthetic that outshone the sun,
encased a child like a turtle or deep-sea diver,
and seemed to exude, as if sweating, beaded droplets
_____Will the slicker, still dripping, devoid of a body but subject
_____to forensic probing, yield up the truth about shame?

The dream
Arguing in the Supreme Court of the Cranium
housed behind a giant brow’s facade,
I was multiple, unruly: accuser, defender
dueling the gavel with motions and counter-motions;
guard whose synaptic epaulets sparked mayhem;
and judge whose wig was a maze of convolutions.



In the spring of 2020, Salmon Poetry, Ireland, will publish Philip Fried‘s eighth book of poetry. Thomas Lux said about his work, “I love Philip Fried’s elegant quarrels with the cruelty and ignorance of the world or, more precisely, its inhabitants.”

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