When the little tree falters and droops pathetically
under the weight of that innocent-looking
but fatal ornament, and Charlie Brown wails,
I’ve killed it, everything I touch gets ruined,
I feel for the guy: I know the sad prison
his heart’s doing time in. I know how it feels
to be King Midas’s evil twin,
Destructo-Man careening through the world,
smashing houses, reducing highways to rubble,
levelling whole cities with my evil-eye laser beams
and mega-grenades. If only I could hold
a cute little bunny without crushing the breath
out of it with my unrestrained strength, if only
I could embrace a woman without inspiring
in her the sudden desire to obtain
a restraining order or move to Cleveland.
I wish I could have a drink with Charlie
Brown—he must be old enough now,
he probably goes by Charles, or Chuck—
and tell him it gets better, Chuck, or, really,
it doesn’t, but you learn to live with it,
and you learn that what you destroy comes back
to you, not always, but sometimes, refreshed
and reassembled, almost as good
as new, and sometimes—sometimes—bearing
the willingness to forgive. And he’d take
a long, mad gulp of his vodka gimlet,
stare off into a world that only he
is tipsy and broken hearted enough
to see—some planar Midwestern town
with repeating trees and ink black night skies,
and, forgetting that I was there, he’d shake
that globe of a head and sigh and mutter,
You know, the truth is that Linus was right.
It really wasn’t such a bad little tree.
This appeared in the December 2011 issue.
Troy Jollimore, a philosophy professor at California State University, Chico, is the author of Love’s Vision and two poetry collections, At Lake Scugog and Tom Thomson in Purgatory.