Michael Jewell

Please send me free information 
and a color brochure. Promise me 
that I can qualify for the job 
of my choice. Use language 
I can understand. 

Assure me of pleasant dreams 
when I go to sleep. I leave 
the details to you. After I get rich 
I will tell my present employer 
what I have been 

holding back, no longer needing 
to pretend that I am happy 
I have to say “Yes” to every 
customer, when selling them  
styles which highlight 

their least attractive features, that I am 
not frustrated that no one ever 
invites me out a second time, 
or that I pretend I think  
that jokes are funny   

when I miss their point. Offer me 
advice I can take, since therapy 
hasn’t worked. Show me how easily 
I can become a licensed 
interior decorator,  

or a court reporter by taking a series 
of inexpensive on-line courses. 
Diving off the deep end, 
I will swim in a heated 
indoor pool,   

unaffected by the weather, once I live 
each moment unencumbered 
in another part of town, in another 
city, in another more nearly 
ideal country.  

Author’s commentary: "Interior Decoration" is an attempt to capture the sense of isolation that so many of us experience, feeling alone while surrounded by a throng of strangers, each of them with expectations that we can neither fulfill nor understand completely. We are constrained by our routines, at the same time we are being pushed to our breaking points. What's the joke here, we wonder, and who is it on? 

Using irony as a method, this poem tries to find equilibrium amid the absurdities of life. Except when that isn't enough, or when mere survival isn't enough, it suggests that there might be a way out. We might dive off the deep end of a pool, rising back to the surface in some better world, which is also this world, only seen in a different manner. Pure astonishment and delight are not guaranteed, although of course they should be, because they belong to us in some primordial way that continues to elude us. 

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Michael Jewell is a poet, painter, and novelist living in Calais, Vermont. Two of his chapbooks have been published by Wood Thrush Books, and more recently his poems have appeared in The Shanghai Literary Review and Mizna. Samples of his art can be seen on his website.