Jacks: “Background Material” (Poetry)

At the photography exhibit,

they have lined up every photo

in which I have ever appeared.

Everyone I have ever seen is there.

According to the booming announcer,

I am to recognize myself without them

recognizing me. The healthy life

has enough time to be unwitting, he whispers.

By this criteria, my life has been

and continues to be a great success.

Here I am, making myself solemn

in the morning of someone else’s mountain hike;

That’s me, comfortable in my western shirt

in the airport next to an escalator.

I am always ruining someone’s vacation

photos at Disneyland, watching a man

hit one over the fence. In my father’s

suit after a funeral, I steal candy

from a convenience store.

The back of my head is turned

toward the great monument.

I am drunk in the back of a truck

On the highway.

Still being celebrated,

I have been discovered

by nearly everybody. Slightly drunk

themselves on the wine I have provided,

they clap me on the back. In front

of the only photo I don’t recognize—

an unfinished house, a man

cradling a hammer, through the slats

the sky the consistency

of undeveloped film—they

are taking pictures.

Hello, I tell myself.

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