Improvisation

Poem by Bill Coyle

So-and-so must be spinning in the grave
we say when something we think so-and-so
would have been horrified by happens, though
common sense tells us most don’t have the room
to actually rotate in the tomb.
Even the more exalted ones who have
a mausoleum in which they might turn
are cooped up in a coffin or an urn.
Lenin, on learning that the Soviet state
had fallen, was undoubtedly irate
but couldn’t, I imagine, do much more
than rattle the glass showcase where he lies
while guards and pilgrims drew back in surprise.
Nobody in the grave, or very few,
actually spins the way we say they do.
Think of the possibilities, though, the power,
if they had room enough to spin and we
could somehow harness them for energy,
rig them like turbines, say, then do or say
just the wrong thing and let them twirl away
below us in vast halls of pristine white,
providing us with drive and warmth and light.
Then our betrayals of all for which they stood
might turn, as they turned, to some current good.


Previously published in The God of This World to His Prophet, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 2006.