Meditation on a copy of Desiderata that hung in the house of my parents.
Vivid worker ant envy and the remedy
playing out desiderata in my head
hardly an ancient wisdom handed down-
a poster parchment yellow,
from age not so much worn as from cheap paper.

Virtues and display typography
equally impressed on a young reader avaricious
on tiptoes searching the walls
for new words to swallow whole and digest,
like a newspaper photo of an anaconda
you can picture it yourself -
the suspicious lump that fills us with
pleasantly remote glee and terror
knowing it ate the whole damn capybara
in one go

Read over and over Go Placidly
it took me a long time to see the
G because it was a faux illuminated capital
so I thought it was a gasping O!
O! Placidly! But
it was actually an imperative and which I absorbed,
exclamation or order,
I could not tell you

Amidst the noise and haste
it was of many charters -
Loyal, Helpful, Brave,
Clean Your Mother and Father Thou Shalt Not
Steal As You Would Have Others
- the most palatable
to a young sugar eater
a warm kindly document
like an old man with his pipe in mouth
staring off at the fire as he gave the child on his knee
words of advice
that would later bear little scrutiny
not only because the consonants were hard to catch
through the grit and spittle of teeth on pipestem

But good words those
in spite of the robust cynicism of an old coffee drinker
be nice to yourself stop looking over your shoulder
the credo for type b personalities
if I lived the words I could recite
I'd have less stomach acid
and better posture
but then so would the python
if he would only stop to chew.