Zeitgeist



© 2005 Katherine Williams
"Zeitgeist" appears in Kakalak 2006: An Anthology of Carolina Poets, Lisa Zerkle, Richard Allen Taylor and Beth Cagle Burt, Eds. Charlotte: Main Street Rag Publishing Co.




In this form of abecedarian, the poem is made of twenty-six lines, each starting alphabetically down the left-hand margin. In the double abecedarian, invented by Barbara Hamby, the lines also end alphabetically in reverse order.

Hajj refers to the Arabic term for the pilgrimage to Mecca.
All that summer, when I could still drink sloe gin fizz
but Scotch became my favorite, our misery
continued. Tom hung in his usual flux,
demonstrating freedom by trying to screw
every girl I knew. I was reading Nabokov,
flirting with the idea of moving to Peru,
going to life-drawing classes, hoping the next
hurricane would be The Big One. Tom’s
idiot brothers were doing no better:
Jack dropped out, started writing his name J-a-q,
Ken almost got picked out of a lineup—
losers! Finally Sean decided to be a gigolo.
Maybe in a year I’d move to Berlin,
not Lima, I thought, and in the interim,
outfit myself for some lofty intellectual
pursuit like linguistics. Sean, I’d ask
querulously, I’m planning my hajj,
remember me when I’m gone, will you? I
seem not to matter to you all that much.
To be honest, I’d have thought about taking
up snake-handling to relieve the ennui, if
vanity hadn’t been a concern. Where
were our parents? Why, drunk! I’ve decided
xenophilia wasn’t so dumb. My sister’s a mystic,
you dabble in opioids, we all fear Hurricane Bob—
zeitgeist of the ’Seventies in South Carolina.