The Blackout by John Grey

By day, Ted has much to say on any subject,
especially what’s in the newspapers.
Damn unions, he snarls. Damn government.
At night, his tongue retreats,
his head diverts the total darkness
by remembering this and that.
Gloria’s sunbathing. Ray’s in swimming.
Dave’s out fishing.
Gloria’s as thin as she’d like to be.
Ray can dive to the bottom, then float to the top,
breaking the surface with a gulp that snares half the air.
Dave claims to have reeled in a whale.
He just hopes that the sun doesn’t burn,
that the water is warm,
that the real fish do bite eventually.
But come the morning, it’s right back into politics.
The mailman gets an earful.
His neighbor knows everyone he hates
but no one he loves.
But then another night
and Ray’s swimming towards a lighthouse
and doesn’t that lighthouse look like Gloria
and what’s Dave going to do
but avoid the rocks thanks to Gloria’s light
and maybe even go after the schools of fish
that Ray is splashing in his direction.
Another day, this time the man
from the gas company cops the earful.
And then night and Gloria’s skinny and brown.
She’s lying on the shore of a lake.
Ray’s in swimming of course.
And Dave is salivating over the fish that leap out of the water,
so close he could reach out and grab them.
“Look, “says Gloria. “Here comes Ted”
Ray dog-paddles, looks in the direction she’s pointing.
Dave turns his head away from the dancing trout.
Ted crashes through the peacefulness
cussing out Democrats and Republicans equally.
Thank God they’ve finally fixed the power, he says.
First to them. Then finally just to himself.
He argues with the television until he falls asleep in front of it.
And then he dreams.
He dreams they never do restore the power.

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