Winter 2001, Volume 18.2
John Randolph Carter holds an M.A. from the University of California in Los Angeles and currently teaches at California State University, Fullerton. He also attended the Royal College of Art, London. He is a poet, artist, dancer, and drummer. His design awards include the New York Art Directors Show and Graphis. His fine artwork is part of numerous public collections including that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His one-person exhibitions include the Minneapolis Institute and the University of Michigan Art Museum. Other work by John Randolph Carter published in Weber Studies can be seen at: Vol. 22.3. You can view other published poetry by John in Exquisite Corpse at http://corpse.org/issue_9/poesy/carter.htm.
Something Useful from the Future
A black carriage rattles and squeaks
and clip-clops through the narrow streets,
sounds of laughter inside
and a glimpse of a white dress.
The sounds echo and die away
and what remains is a misty dark
drizzle and an orange glow
through the window curtains.
I like standing in a doorway
waiting for George Washington
to step outside of Christ Church
after an evening service.
Not yet the father of a country
or a painted profile leading
desperate men across a river in winter
or a green engraving on a piece of paper.
I would like to emerge from the shadows
and offer him something useful from the future
—dental floss. But what if that tipped
the fragile balance of history just enough?
The only one awake on earth,
floor waxed well beyond necessity
in little half-moon swirls of reflection.
So quiet and serene, an occasional snore,
black night beyond the large windows,
lights in the distance, bunks evenly spaced,
duffel bags hanging from bedposts,
each stenciled neatly with name and
serial number of the owner and
an identical lock at the top.
How could life achieve such simplicity?
On each bunk: two sheets, one pillow,
one olive drab blanket, one T-shirt,
one boxer shorts, one recruit.
Time creeping by from footstep to footstep
across the shiny floor, to the large window
to stare across the dark water of the estuary
at the lights of Oakland.