Translation
by Jamie MacKinnon

Truth is: “old” cheddar’s mild
Soft, jejune, not yet walking
Need medium underwear?
Buy a “large” pair

“Two thumbs up”
Means sucky, infantile
Better to read a book instead
In which opposable truths
Are sometimes wed

“One size fits all”
But not you it seems
“Convenient, electronic” leaves
You on your own, abandoned
“Gracious living” is commercial code
For no unwanted folks can call
“Virtual” denotes not really
And sometimes not at all

“Handy to,” “within minutes of,” portends
A life in cars, commuting without end
“Complete selection” means
You’re out of luck
If your waist is 33 or 35
If you like “foreign” films
If you want a cassette
Something “better”
(Something else)
Is all you can get

“Married” white male
Seeks “romance” and “affection”
In Edmonton, call “Stan”
SWF seeks “secure, professional” man
Like distant starts visible
To the well trained eye
You discern asterisks trailing

Our commitment*
Our pledge*
A nominal* fee
Six per cent financing*
Lifetime* guarantee

Even doors betray their promise
The architect planned four
The builder built four
But try one—locked—as by decree
Four doors, and some janitor
Always locks three
You grow used to the equating
Of incommensurate things
You get used to decoding
Discounting
Translating
It’s the price you pay
For mundane living

Sad it will be therefore
(But in keeping with the times)
To discover scare quotes around
The gate of everlasting life
To discover that
Whosoever believeth shall live, though he die
Was really meant
To be translated, deflated
Bereft of promise, or
To discover that there is in fact a gate
Real and untranslated
A gate of supernal promise
A celestial portal the other side of which
Is all you’ve longed for
(Truth, love, music of the spheres)
That has, alas, been locked
By some overzealous janitor
Who’s been drinking too much beer


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