Poem from opening day

Muting Regis – Persephone Phoenix


Perhaps muting Regis Philbin in the taxicab
multimedia experience was ultimately unwise,
but it felt so good in the moment–so powerful
a retort to my inner fear that taxicab riding says
of me “Out-of-towner, you are no

New Yorker,” or “You don’t even know
your way around south of 14th street,” both
of which pain me because they are true.
(Perhaps Pearl was named for its elusiveness
amid Water.) Anyway I stuff
the figurative sock in Regis’s mouth, muting chatter
for the better almost-silence of driving and glass
banged by bass until we roll past, the cabbie
and I now a “we” of sorts. I compliment
his illuminated dashboard statuary and he asks
if I have noticed it is windier, lately.

Out of the silence he says, “Everything that moves
has an engine and every engine
has a cooling system.”

“Our earth has the poles,” I offer, and he smiles
without smiling in the rear-view glass, moving
only the corners of his eyes and his hands,
swiveling the wheel’s circumference.

“Once the cooling system is melted, what
do you think will happen?” I only blink.
He continues, “What will happen to the fiery
magma and burning nastiness beneath
us, under the crust? What will happen
once the engine boils over?” I see him
watching me in the mirror and now
he really does smile.

“Hell on earth,” I reply, no longer volunteering
but whispering. He turns off the meter
to answer, but I have already arrived
at another reason not to take a taxi.

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