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(DV) Engel: A Desire Deferred







A Desire Deferred 
by Adam Engel
May 5, 2006

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(For John Keats, who certainly would not have autographed our toxic water.)



The Ad-man, retired,

fed me leafy vegetables

and meaty plant proteins,

grown, hydroponically,

in his basement.


Posters lined long and narrow walls

of polished stone, like mausoleum halls:

Ad campaigns he had designed

to muddle minds of generations.


I smiled nervously at recollections,

long mistaken for memories

"primordial" and "personal,"

I'd shared with millions

who'd also seen the ads as kids,

and buried them, deep as they could,

along-side Oedipus and rhymes

of nurseries and dens

where they absorbed the TV's jingled

messages from locked play-pens:

bleached light and eerie cackling

indelible as Mother Goose

and all her "golden eggs."

Forty years in "the business"

he had sculpted many brains,

stirred rabid hungers

for commonplace stuff,

products, most of which,

unlike his images and words,

his catchy tunes and captions,

were quickly superannuated,

"disappeared," forgotten.

He said:


"I did not create the desires of

men and women,

I directed energies of lust

to palpable, attainable 'stuff.'

The people desire, it is their nature.

The people need the Ad-man

to show them what they need;

to tell them what will satisfy;

to teach them how

to feed themselves,

to dress themselves,

to nurture, elevate, refine


from each, according to his


to each, according to his


My aim was not to please,

but to enchant, transform

energies erupting from

abysmal nothing-holes

no machines can seal

to real-time thrill of purchase,

pure consumer zeal."


He showed me prizes

and prize advertisements,

posters and mementos

of a life spent molding

wants, whims and fancies

of "the people."


He revealed the model of his

his Great Vision, the advertisement

that, above all others, he would

leave to fickle, bored, posterity:

a colorful poster

for a unisex cologne

called "Earn."



a wedding party in The Park:


Tree-lined fields, and in the offing

grey and black towers of the City,

like executives in suits.

The wedding guests beautiful,

the wedding guests young.


The bride was barefoot;

gauze frock opaque;

blond hair flower-flecked

and curled, long, wild.


The groom wore denim,

motorcycle boots,

black tuxedo jacket

and black top hat.


Bride and Groom

photographed running,

arms outstretched,

caught in Time,

just short of embrace,

each equidistant from

the center of the scene,

superimposed over a green,

translucent, bottle of cologne,

shaped like an amphora.

The caption read:

"Earn. The moment. Forever."


"The embodiment of longing:

desire unfulfilled, gaping, growing;

the soul of yearn, is 'Earn,'

essence of relief, deferred

to that long-awaited moment

of purchase and release,

of solitary owning:

pure, final, absolute,"

said the Ad-man.


We finished our drinks.

The Ad-man, retired,

did not offer another.

Adam Engel
can be reached at: bartleby.samsa@verizon.com.

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