David Gawarecki, Alum
Columbia College 1975
School of International and Public Affairs 1991
Scowl (A Lament, with Apologies to Allen Ginsberg)
I've seen the best minds of my generation silenced by manufactured fear,
Banalized by materialist want, marginalized by a creeping sense of anomie,
Angel-haired hippies once steeped in Sophocles and Kant
Self-chained like galley slaves to desks at law firms and banks,
The lemur-eyed armies of the office casual banished from the light of day,
Spirited under darkness's cover to cold beds in distant suburban lairs,
The glass and steel warrens of night elided by the gentle sibilance
Of Urdu and Pashtoon-speaking drivers anachronistically attired in coat and tie,
Steel-tinted windows -- a paean to a now sanctified security, of sorts,
Sheltering out an impenetrable, imponderably threatening night,
Obscured amid the rumbling, soft-suspension of petrol-starved vehicles.
A straw-haired, somnambulant half-stranger waits in midnight's incandescence
Wearing a terry cloth robe whose softness belies the desiccation of aging skin,
Poised softly in chiaroscuro on naked feet beyond the foyer's grasp,
Fine creases etched at eyes and mouth by an expression half-sardonic,
Yes, one once known so well but quietly forgotten over the years
Of that insatiable hunger, a soft familiar smile more pity than love.
The briefcase tossed behind the couch, a last cigarette in the cold night air.
And what raw sphincter spat them into this world less from womb than bowels,
Transmogrified seraphim of shattered innocence and predigested imagination?
Mammon! Demiurge of downcast eyes searching for coins in the gutter!
Mammon! The vainglory of those who were last but are now first!
Mammon! The one unitary and true god, my succor and salvation!
Mammon! White-kimonoed Karoshi's gaudy, Aramaic consort!
Mammon! The apotheosis of human appetite!
Mammon! Crusher of young souls and old desire!
Henry Winters, I'm with you in Maryrest,
In the sullenness of your darkened hole,
Your acid wit and gallows humor
Now leaden among your fellow dead
Lost amid the triviality of their thick-tongued silence.
I'm with you in Maryrest,
Where the burdens that rendered you to perpetual night
Stand over you like the upturned cigarette butts
With which, by wont, you lined your nocturnal desk,
Your traitorous assassins -- insidious, glowing worms.
I'm with you in Maryrest,
On the barrenness of your hilltop redoubt
In the misnomer of your sepulchral estate,
Where rest is the last thing found
Amid the din of Bergen traffic's unebbing flow.
In the fathomless depths of the turbulent soul,
Desire, like dormant dreams, dies so, so hard.
(David Gawarecki -- Columbia College Class of '75, SIPA Class of '91 -- is a novelist and short story writer who currently resides in New Haven, CT. He shares his life with Martha Hayes, a poet, essayist and Associate Professor of English at Gateway Community College.)