The Whole of Harmonium


by John Gallaher



That’s what Stevens wanted to call his collected poems.  


He lost that battle.  And so what chance do any of us 


have?  We’re all losing things constantly as a kind of 


completeness.  Eliot, eight, lost a pencil topper, a Martian 


with google eyes, at the Omaha Botanical Gardens.  


That was a bad afternoon, the “lost forever” lesson.  It’s 


Lesson One.  And today, at the Binghamton airport, an 


airport I’ve decided does no one any real good, I lost 


$1.75 in a snack machine trying to get a peppermint 


patty.  It fell and then bounced back onto the bottom 


merchandise shelf.  I meditated upon this a bit, hopefully 


$1.75 worth, trying to make it a worthwhile learning 


experience, as I have no more change, and there’s 


nowhere around I can see to get any.  How my small losing 


will be this boon for someone who will get two treats 


in a bit, that I might, that I could perhaps wait around 


and watch happen.  Maybe “$1.75 worth” would make 


a good mantra.  It kind of trips off the tongue.  I’m 


participating in “forward thinking” while the two people 


in the seats in front of me are getting to know each other.  


He’s telling her he’s published several books with major 


vendors on conflict resolution in the workplace.  It’s 


making me want to test him out.  He nods a lot and holds 


his hands together like he’s praying while he talks.  I’m 


losing something every second, listening to him.  Like 


how every few years someone proclaims it to be the “End 


of Innocence,” which then must mean innocence 


somehow comes back to us, to be lost over and over, 


or that perhaps it’s innocence in layers, all the way down 


to never arriving, while bankers are still mysteriously dying 


and no one’s saying much about it.  Or else no more than 


a statistical average of bankers is dying mysteriously and 


slow news days are making too much of it.  They say, 


likewise, that the Maryville, Missouri area has the statistical 


average of cancers and tumors and people dying per 


capita, but people are saying something here is killing us.