Friday, December 23, 2011

The Magazine

by Alex Gallo-Brown

Trains have always soothed me.
Or movement has.
I think of the car rides
my father used to take me on
when I was young and fussy,
driving towards nothing,
no destination but my better mood.
So it is with fathers, or good ones.
I was lucky.
He took me on real trips, too,
to Vancouver, Montana, and Mexico.
“La cuenta, por favor,” I learned to say early,
feeling the pride flush his fatherly face.
He looked full of flavor and love
and probably astonishment too
that the movement of a pen
could bring us here,
to this beachy, sun-washed place,
where his son could order, in another language,
a bill that he would never have to pay.

The magazine I understood, even then,
to be a figure of caprice.
It meant trips to San Francisco
to fire miniature powdery grenades at the ground
and seclude slender plastic ninja
swords from their sheathes.
It meant fortune cookies and fancy meals
and afternoon walks on the beach.
But it also meant mornings soaked in stress,
breakfasts with women whose smiles
made you feel grubby and unwanted.
It meant arguments with himself out loud,
stopping the soliloquy only to instruct me
next time to eat my bacon with a knife and fork.
It meant egotist editors chopping his best lines,
puffy promo pieces he preferred
eschew his name.

But mostly the magazine meant movement,
release from the dogged domesticity of home
into a bright and bursting unknown.
It was his car ride to nowhere but
a place you don’t yet know,
somewhere new and weightless
and entirely without fear.