Russell Shorto

Cul de Sac

Bitterness or whatever apparently swivels like a telescope.

And now it’s trained this way: toward the light that shines

In my eyes and pays out a line of sudden indifference,

Like sleep in a wave cresting, and I swear you are the cause

Not me.  For I was there, right here, not just waiting but

Dawning and dreaming and digging into an unknown

Country they told me was called the future, and moment

-arily happy or something, shit, but guess what I guess

I’m done.  I search myself as if for missing keys, patting

Here and there and can’t find nothing and no, it’s not

My fault.  You can glow all you want, and burn too, but

What this is isn’t what I laid out.  I am slow as a clam,

True, but steady like the sand it sucks and spits, valving

With an eternal rhythm: on this you can depend, or could.

For there is no white moon this night, nothing romantic.

I’m hot no more.  I still know the thing I knew, hold still

What’s damned obvious and as good as the silver in the sky

At night, but it’s not me, not my deal, not what I can hold

Or give or be honest about or grow with or live for or be.

I’m told turkeys and ruminants dodge the inevitable in

Similar ugly fashions and I don’t feel for their death.

Animals all.  Let the games be dead.  Forget me and I

’ll mosey off down this salt trek between cudgels and

fevers, observe the traffic, be good or bad, not finding

much difference that comes bouncing back either way.

About the Author

  I was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I have three children (Anna, Eva and Anthony) and three step-children (Reinier, Hector and Benjamin).  I write books of narrative history; I believe history is most meaningful to us when it manifests itself through individuals in conflict. My books have been published in fourteen languages and have won numerous awards.  I am senior scholar at the New Netherland Institute and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. My interests include the past, the present and the future, not necessarily in that order.  

photo by Keke Keukelaar