On May Day
a friend says he is about to become homeless.
He is distressed and needs help.
His problem is he can't live
anywhere near people.
At night he becomes two people.
In the loudest possible voice,
one self cross-examines the other.
The interrogation is electric.
Done harshly, with pomp and ceremony.
You would think Joan of Arc was on trial.
(<i>He</i> would say Jeanne d'Arc.)
And he does it every night.
Neighbors hear through the walls.
At first he's recalcitrant.
He feels he's the victim of recriminations.
He's given notice.
He feels defenseless.
He can't make the fervent appeal that he feels.
There's nothing to fortify him
against the impending disaster.
Someone suggested he go to the cemetery
to do his cross-examination.
The dead can't hear.
Creatures of rigid formality,
they are circumspect, patient and kindly.
They tolerate just about anything--even
a man in two parts
in a voice of fire and brimstone.