Friday, September 27, 2013

David [name withheld] (Posted for 50th Birthday)

His hubris is such
that he often says
his six-word story is
“God created,
and so must I.”

In everything he does
he tries a creative approach.
While this is not
always successful
(as evidenced by his previous
failed love relationships),
he relies upon
the element of surprise
to compensate for
true talent and competence.

He is most proud
of his second marriage
and how seamlessly
he became a husband
and assumed the paternal role
to Anita’s pre-existing
family.

In his free time
he is a voracious reader
of nonfiction,
with his favorite genres being
show business biographies,
theological treatises
and reference books.

He loves all forms
of music,
and his favorite all-time band
is the New York Dolls.

He started writing
when he was 15,
and while there have been
long periods of inactivity
in the intervening 35 years,
writing is the single
most gratifying work
he’s ever done.

When he writes
he is no longer
overweight or
Mexican or
awkward or
unwanted or
lonesome.

True to his credo,
when he writes
he creates himself,

and it amuses him,
and thankfully,
he amuses easily.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Movie of My Life

The movie of my life
will not star Brad Pitt
or Angelina Jolie
or anyone else you’d know
or recognize
or even want to look at,
but I will be played by
at least six different actors
portraying me
in different eras.

I’ll market it like an indie
(with lowered expectations)
and feign surprise
when it becomes
a critical favorite.

John Barry will write the score
and it will be triumphant,
exotic and sentimental
and it will win him
another Academy Award.

My costumes will be
specially tailored for me
and you’ll never see me
eating
anything.

The story will be
that I’m the lovable underdog,
a schlemiel Horatio Alger
and they’ll all root for me,
as David fighting some Goliath
as I’ll defy the odds
until I ultimately rise
and transcend past…

something
 (I haven’t worked that
part out yet).

I’ll hire an editor
who specializes in action films
with masterful pacing
so that every scene
builds in suspense
and tension.

In the movie of my life
everything will be smarter
faster
and better
than in real life.

All the people
I could never please,
and things I never did,
and every needless worry
I courted
won’t make the final cut,

and all kind words
belated wisdom
and quotable epigrams
left unspoken
will be dubbed in
during post-production.

The final indignity:
the movie of my life
will go
straight
to home video.

[Posted in honor of my 50th birthday this coming Friday.]

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bad Boy and Family Man

I'm the guy you used to want.

I'm the one who snuck you
out the window of your
parent's house
and took you on my Harley
and we drank and rode all night
falling asleep in the wet grass
after fornicating behind the church
both of us knowing
you had an algebra test the next morning.

I'm the one who didn't take
any shit from anyone and though it
cost me a couple lousy jobs and
a high school diploma
you still acquiesced to
my fearless desire
because something in your soul
was lit when you were under
my alpha male charm.

There was no fight too small,
my fists leapt at every opportunity,
while I did heroic lines of coke
and stole what I didn't have
and I didn't care about tomorrow
and when marriage number one crashed and burned
I blamed her for it
and I did all these things
because that's what got me laid
and it felt right.

Now time has slowed me
and I have seen error of those ways.
I found a family
and maybe it was the kids that
finally softened me,

but most likely it was
my wife's love all along.

Now I wake up every morning
shave and put on a clean shirt
and I say "yes, sir" to a lot of guys
that I might have bitch-slapped
back in the day,
and I call home before I leave work
to ask if she needs anything
from the store
even if it's tampons.

I take out the trash,
help one daughter with her algebra,
pick up my son and his friend
and take them to the bowling alley,
and sit through another re-run
of "Full House" with my littlest one,

and sometimes,
in my quietest moments
both Bad Boy and Family Man
will appear to me
at the same time
asking the same question:

who are you?

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight - at www.dversepoets.com - come along and find your new favorite poet.  BTW, this is a re-posting of a poem I wrote in 2006. Everyday I'm posting autobiographical poems to commemorate my turning 50 years old later this week. ]

Monday, September 23, 2013

Retracing My Steps

When I started
I wanted to be Groucho Marx,
then I wanted to be
John Lennon
because they looked
confident,
distinct,
alive.

Hn high school
I wanted to be
John Travolta from
Saturday Night Fever.”

Then I became
Woody Allen,
then Richard Pryor
because they helped me feel
less ashamed
that I wasn’t
White or Christian.

In college
I wrote pointless plays
trying to be Neil Simon
and I tried to love
as easily as Leo Buscaglia.

Then I wanted to be
an iconoclast
so I tried being
Warren Farrell
and Lenny Bruce.

I became a drunk
trying to write like Bukowski
and I made a lot of lousy
demo recordings trying to be
Prince.

I loved and I tried
to salvage broken women
who refused my help
because I saw myself
as a mix
of Jesus Christ and
Rhoda Morgenstern:
I would prove
that I was better
than the rest
by loving the unlovable
especially
since I believed
I didn't deserve better
than that.

When I
married and became Pop-o
I tried to become my own father,
but that was a dead end too
especially since
he didn't have much faith in me
until I graduated from college.

So here I sit
at 43
retracing my steps
I smile at my folly,
realizing all these people
were only signposts
pointing me to
here and now.

This flower is still blooming
this song is not over yet
and I know I’m closer
to the dessert
than the appetizer,

and I’ve only recently figured out
that I’m my own
do-it-yourself project

and if I do it right
maybe
I’ll be a signpost
in someone else's life.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Starlight Ballroom

In the Starlight Ballroom
it is closing time.

The music turned tuneless,
the floor, littered
with used napkins
and discarded hopes.

He'll give the place
one last look,
finish off the drink
that's kept him company,

and remember
that laughing girl,

wondering
who's she with now?

It doesn't matter.

Tomorrow will bring
fresh glitter
and opportunities.

Finally,
when the music's over
as the lights come up,
he sees his counterparts
scattered like bodies
on a smoldering battlefield,

each one hopeless
lifeless and lost,

but the most disconcerting
thought is

how alike they all appear
this late
at night.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Do You Have a Dark Side?"

There is a fire
that never goes out,
never forgets
the list of injustices.

I tend this fire
and stoke it with
bitter memories,
afraid to forgive
lest I might forget.

This fire has kept
the pencil in my hand,
the guitar in my embrace,
the piano in my service.

"Why didn't you call?"
"Why didn't you write?"
"Why'd you do me like that?"

The passion
will never die
because there's always
something
to enrage my soul.

I will not
go gentle into that good
night.

I may look and act
like I've mellowed
but that's just a
strategy for disarming you,

because even if I am
a nearly invisible
84 year old
toothless man,

I'll still remember
what you did,

and I'll sidle up beside you
(you won't even recognize me)
and when no one's looking
I'll plunge my blade
into your side
and drag it up
and finally out,

and then I'll quietly
shuffle away.

Do I have a dark side?

Of course, I do.
It's just inside.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This Impossible Puzzle

I don’t trust
bright sunny
Tuesdays
in early September
anymore.
My plan was to write
nine stanzas of
eleven words each,
my poetic tribute
to the fallen,
but 99 words won’t say it
and 2,977 victims won’t
hear it.
12 years gone
and I am still
buried under
the weight of it all.
Underneath the
confetti rubble,
broken masonry,
shattered glass,
melted steel,
this heart weeps
angry
but impotent,
as nothing will undo the day
and repeated viewings
do not
desensitize me
as they should.
I want vengeance,
I want to wreak havoc
and mayhem,
but I know
that is not my domain.
I want blood,
but remember
that I have been saved
by His blood,
so I pray,
hopeful that it’s enough,
while trying to solve
this impossible puzzle
with 3D pieces
scattered
throughout the
galaxy,
and trying not
to give in to
the empty,
unforgiving silence.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight @www.dversepoets.com - my home away from home online. Come on and share your thoughts and feelings.]

Friday, September 06, 2013

To Any Girls with Bullets and Arrows

All the girls
who loved me and
eventually left me
knew I had a writing habit.

They kissed me on the cheek
and said things
that my heart heard as
“you need this pain for your art”
“you need to stretch yourself”
”it’ll be good for you to grow”
“you can do better than me.”

I suppose these phrases
were meant to console me,

but,
how dare they?

I don’t know if their goodbyes
improved my writing
or perhaps I passed my creative peak
long ago,

but store this away
all you girls with my name
on your bullets and arrows:

I’ve had enough of the pain
and tears just make the words
sound stupid anyway

and the morning after
is always worse
than the night before.

So,
even though your leaving
would fuel another contribution
to the canon of the
self-pitying written word
writ swollen and drunk
after midnight,

please
stay.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Post-Marriage, July 1994

After five years
of steady dating,
we became engaged
and a year after that
we were married
on the day
before Valentine’s Day, 1994.

Our marriage was weak
and hollow
and it seemed
the only things
we had in common
were buying things
and a limited history

but I forced a sickly smile
and I went through with it,

but it felt wrong
immediately.

Very soon
after we were married
it must have hit her too
because she was leaving earlier,
staying out later
and eventually,
she chose
her computer programming teacher
over me.

I left on the day
before Independence Day,

taking only
what I could pack
into the trunk
of my Honda,

and even though
I felt I lost everything,

I knew I hadn’t.

I still had
me
and whoever that was,
I was determined to
hold on to myself.

I was alone
and my face burned
with tears and humiliation,

and I did a million
self-destructive things,
spent money I didn’t have,
recklessly crashing
into others
who I treated like
fleshy furniture,

but somehow
I couldn’t
do enough
to do me in.

So,
I dressed slovenly,
on my days off
I didn't shave,
I slept in.

I hid,
became reclusive,
emerging only to venture out
to the video store
or to get more pizza.

I watched TV and ate
and let myself heal
and lapse back
into the pre-marriage slob
of who I really was,

and that felt right
immediately.

It felt good
to be reunited with
myself again.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Parachutists

Where we worship,
members come together 
every week,

out of their fear,
of the dark,
death,
loneliness.

Beyond logic
and rational self-interest,

in the brief moments
after the opening prayer
everyone suspends disbelief
and bids each other good morning,
offering friendship and love.

Holding hands 
they leap like parachutists,
holding onto each other
in free fall,
floating on love and faith
until they land
back in the world
where there are necessary
arbitrary boundaries.

It may not make sense,
but it doesn’t have to 
make sense.

Enough parachutists
could change the landscape,
but they would have to keep
holding hands 
long after they landed 
hard
on this dark 
and lonely planet.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - stop by for a hot cuppa poetry.]