funny, ain’t it

so the other day,
i was smoking a cigarette
looking over the parking lot.
thinkin’ back to
one of those apartments
i lived in before i got here,
knowing what a decade or so
of thought can do to a man.

at different points in the past,
i had a half dozen futures
that got discarded for one reason,
or another.
most of them are barely remembered
some fantasies
and one or two couldn’t have’s;
probably about average
for a guy my age.

nowadays, i’m too suspicious
to put down stranglin’ roots.
mostly, the experience
has been one of
of knowing the sounds of
misguided youth,
a foolish streak.
make the worst possible decisions;
being surprised when
nothing works out
like it was supposed to.

if i’ve learned
from these strange circumstances,
places i might have stayed
for a year or more, or less,
it would be never to count
on the present staying the same
in the future.
with that small adjustment,
lives could be saved.

i might have been a parent once,
a father or a husband.
there were nights
life seemed headed for normality.
everytime i take a breath,
it carries fear of being
depended on, of coming home
from some shitty job
to some angry wife,
getting treated like shit
while some hungry-mouthed
infant wails and cries.

somehow, i lucked out.
instead of a partner or
a wife, i’ve got poems
written by angry old men,
careful not to pretend to be
role models for
anyone looking for
repetitious love, requiring
weekly paychecks and
constant attention.

they talk, and i listen,
and sometimes i tell them about the time
i was almost a dad, while
most of the time they tell me
“we don’t care” or
some such aggression.
that’s fine;
the wherewithal to continue
reading has to come
from somewhere,
even if the house is quiet
when i get to choose
what’s flashing silently on the tv.

old poets gather, speak,
it’s ok if you drink too much,
or love cigarettes more than oxygen,
or take drugs until you can’t think.
if you’re not good to your woman,
if you spend your time
seeing how much shit they’ll take
from men who trade in
harmless words”,
that’s fine, just par
for the course.

all that wisdom mixed venom,
so much bile
given back to life
in poems, the pins
stuck through a few layers of skin,
broken bones, smashed lungs,
shattered hearts.

dissuaded from the love they
thought might set them free,
they wander and mutter about all
those times she just needed
to hear a few words,
instead the words would be wasted
on a blank page
that says nothing at all.

the whole thing’s funny,
an eternal joke
wrapped in oddball circumstance.
they keep reaching for
their own destruction,
never taking the time to give
of themselves the same
emotion and raw love
they shower on poems.

the whole thing should be funny.


inspired by the poets who got me through November, 2003. the sacrifice of one’s own happiness is just further proof that the canaries in the coalmine deserve as much love as the pin-up girls with that come hither look. whatever they want, they don’t want it forever. crb

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