Thursday, March 15, 2012

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 mind 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.

Well, 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.

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


[Posted for D'Verse Poets Filling the Gaps . This was an especially tricky assignment, as I try to make my poems completely self-contained and self-explanatory (with no need for explanation).  That said, here's an old poem from 1988, when I was having an particularly self-pitying night. Hoped you liked it.]


  1. either way you will write...i know musicians that need just that for their inspiration..always the way of the lonesome cowboy, riding - left by everyone- into the sinking sun...ha..what i wanted to say is...(i'm a bit drifty today...ha) ...i love that you ask her to stay...and i enjoyed your poem sir

  2. O, you saw my ‣
    and my ↗. . .

    I love your ↔ though
    [= your self-explanatory poem {double-sided, 12-guage arrow}]!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Thanks, when I read this poem to my mother, she thought the ending made me sound pathetic, like I was begging her to stay. I don't think my mom wanted to admit that I was *that* pathetic at the time.

  5. There is not a thing pathetic about showing emotions. I really dislike how the 'old' expression is always imprinted on kids. Boys play with guns, girls play with dolls. Boys wear blue, girls wear pink frilly things. And, the worst one of all is, 'big boys don't cry' well I say, why not! They have hearts, they live, they love and if they really do love, then, they are supposed to cry because love hurts us sometimes. It can't not hurt us, if it's love.
    I find your (I hate) poetry .... lovely.

  6. Hmmm not explanation, but fitting into a larger perspedtive, such as for example the comment made by your mother and your reply to her. That is the real life that falls outside the poem and places it within the context of your real life.

    As it is, like most of your poetry I really enjoyed this immensely and find it filled with such wit and cutting charm that I know they just simply explain all of you! :) I think I can imagine what a piece written five years from now looking back on this poem and filling in the gaps might look like: a bit of American noir. :)

  7. Anonymous5:02 PM

    An entertaining read... sometimes you have those self pitying times but I like the touch of black humour!

  8. I'm from the opposite school, where I'm happy only if my poems have room and shadows and inferences to be drawn lots of different ways--not that I ever get that good with all that, but I admire a tightly written poem which is a self-contained unit, (Mama Zen is absolutely fantastic at that, as are you)with a clean, crisp shot to the head type message. This is all of that, even though it is somewhat discursive, and contradictory at times, it's internally very much a one clear message piece--and I agree with it--pain can be a totally wayward muse, and without knowing happiness, you can only write about half the human experience, maybe less. Thanks for dragging this one off the back shelves.

  9. Poor Mosk... those girls don't know what they're missing. Great ending by the way.

  10. Anonymous7:34 PM

    LOL cute little ditty on your muses.

  11. there is a bukowski verse tickling at the edge of my mind where he writes about the pain to write...i will find it later...a very real write man...and felt...i think many of us would be better off without the pain...and maybe a few that would stay...

  12. Unlike your Mama, I don't think you were any more pathetic than most of us - lonely, outside-of, wanting - now: courageous, raw, writing with authenticity ... there is so much to admire in your work Mosk, your bravery not the least of it. A truly great poem.

  13. Not pathetic at all. Very real, sharp, witty. You sling the arrows back quite well!

  14. gotta say- I love this. Honest and raw- just telling it how it is. And it gives an insight into YOU...made me think of that Hemingway quote- "a man doesn't write- he sits at a typewriter and bleeds". I find it funny how people say things like- 'you need your pain for your art'. I guess all art is rooted in emotion whether painful or not- but to me- its kind of crass- like people who thinik things like this don't REALLY get it...and I think you express that fantastically well here...onje of my faves ive read for this dverse prompt so far

  15. Love the honesty..we all have emotions. Writing is my pencil therapy...

  16. Thanks everyone, the response is quite surprising and encouraging. I can't believe I have poems that are 24 years old and worth commenting on. I thank you all and wish I could buy each of you a drink. Consider yourselves hugged. - Mosk

  17. holy crap. i loved this.

  18. It's the good and bad parts that make the whole of who we are. I loved this!

    1. I agree! Hell, it's easy to love me if you only look at the good stuff - take a look at the bad stuff and still love me, now that's love!

  19. Perhaps you disarm the quiver and hide the gun when you first meet?
    Does not matter if written today or a thousand moons back, great.

    1. No, because even if I did disarm and hide their weapons, some wore this really sexy poisonous lipstick, and I'd still be a goner. Thanks for the kind words.

  20. Wait... you wrote this in '88? what were you, like 2? :-)

    This was great Buddah -- this one I was caught between giving you a slap to snap out of it and swoon. My emotions went all over the spectrum in a very short time.
    Well done!

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  21. More like 25! When I was two the only woman to break my heart was my mom, and that was only because she would limit me to two desserts a night.

    Yes, from 1987-88 my emotions, my hormones, and my stray poetry all went all over the spectrum in a very short time as well. A "well done" from you means a lot. - Moskowitz

  22. Girls at least *try* to be nice when we're breaking someone's heart. Most of us, anyway.

    1. That's true. Men can be such brutes! I once broke up with a girl the day before Valentine's Day- even after she'd received my Valentine's Day card in the mail. What a shitheel I was!

  23. In my experience, women can be just as big pigs about the leaving and the breakups as men. This was expressive, honest - and the ending, unexpected but SO from the heart. You were great from the start, my brudda, so I'm extra impressed! Love, Ameleh