Saturday, June 29, 2013

Me and Charlie Chaplin’s ghost


Life’s ironies twist in my stomach like a knife.
I’m a fish being gutted to cook in someone’s emotional chowder
And the idea makes me puke.

Everybody tells me how nothing lasts forever, especially love.
The pain does, I tell them.

I still feel towards my lover like I always did,
But not she hates me for it.
If I didn’t feel so bad at losing her, I would laugh.

I’m a sucker for sit-coms and slap stick
Except when I’m the guy who gets cheated on
Or the man who doesn’t see the banana peel on the street
And falls on my face.

I haven’t got the hang of seeing lovers come and go.
I think each one is it and plan on an eternity together,
You know, all that muck greeting cards sell

When love fails, I’m crushed.
And there’s not a damned thing I co do
Except to roll up in front of the boob tube
With a tub of rocky road ice cream
And dull my senses on old movies

Yet each time I catch Charlie Chaplin’s tramp
And know deep down
He’s me.


The road from here to there
Is a convoluted mess
Littered with years of
Going back and forth
My footsteps wearing a path so deep
I get swallowed up in it

The reason for my trek
Lost years ago among the weeds
Reeds and rubbish

I feel seat breezes
And hear the waves
I step across sand
That turns tan with the
Occasional drip of my blood

Sometimes I see myself
As a sinful bull
Whose soul purpose
Of coming and going
Is to satisfy myself

Those times when I dig too deep
I actually feel ashamed
Most times, I do not think at all
My feet the only thoughts
Each step drumming
Out all other sounds in my head

So all I have is
The coming and the going
And the road from
Here to there.


I have abused the colors of my life
Painting my living roach couch blue
And the floor beneath it, red
A baroque Christmas
For family members who are not here
The globs of pain as vivid
As Christmas ornaments
While streaks of dripped brush stokes
Make for mocking tinsel

The room, perhaps, is a self portrait,
Of what I feel inside,
That me who perpetually
Misbehaves while my parents are away
My message to them
Over their perpetual neglect
Each drip like a drop of blood
As if I had cut their throats
And used their blood for paint,
With me sitting on the only
Uncolored chair in the room
Admiring my own handiwork.


I dream about dead poets
As I drive along the river side
In my daily routine of coming and going
Humming pop tunes to the radio
As sunlight strobes across my eyes
Through tall reeds and purple red weed
Wordsworth from high school
Intrudes when I stop at the light,
Recited phrases ticking off the time
Until the light turns green,
The clock tower bellowing its harmony
Along with the factory whistles
My mind shaping the tap of
My boss’ impatient foot
Or the click of his fingernails
On the top of the time clock
Asking why I’m late again
Refusing to accept the excuse
Wordsworth made me do it.


I’m not laughing because I’m happy,
My laugh echoing
In the chamber of horrors inside my head,
Like a madman’s.
I want to be circumspect
A cool customer with calm composure
Grinning in the face of adversity
When the best I can muster
Is this laugh
When deep down, behind it all,
I’m crying.
But even the tears aren’t real,
Bits of glitter self pity creates
To fill some void I can’t explain
I have worn so many masks for so long
I’ve forgotten which face is my face
When I try to take them off,
Misplacing the real me in a pile of strange faces
I know aren’t me.
I used to believe love was a flower
Diminished when the last petal fell off
So that each rendition of that old daisy
Kid’s song was a torture to me,
She loves me
She loves me love
She killed love with the last pluck
I remember walking a garden grove
With you once
Where cherry blossom petals flowed
Around our feet
You saw them as a flood of love
I saw them as love’s bleeding
I still can’t look a rose in the eye without blinking
Or thinking of the day I tried
 to save our love with a rose
Petals pour off and onto my hands
As I handed the rose to you.
I always annoyed you
By loving autumn colors
Even when I knew leaves red now
Eventually turned to brown
You annoyed me by pressing flowers
Between the pages of my favorite books
Preserving them so I never know exactly
When – if at all – they were dead.
A dead leave at least looks dead when it dies
This, of course, always amazed you most
My seeing dead things before they have lived
Summer love in fall
Spring blossoms rotting
Thunder storms never scared me so much
As spreading grass see.
I always see the brown remains of dead grass
Before the grass as time to grow.
Even on the beach we disagreed
For you the waves always washed in
While for me they always washed away.
While rainy days cheered me
Because I knew they would never last,
Sunny days depressed me for the same reason
Yet my logic came unlatched that day
You told me good bye
No sunny or rainy days to come and go
No waves to flow in or out,
Only petals falling on my cheeks
Withering there without you.


For all I do I still feel
Like a leaf trapped in ice,
Kicking myself for that last chance
To flee when fall’s winds
Still blew

Perhaps I miss summer
Or mistook Indian summer
For my glory days of green

I see my veins reflected
In the Smokey cold around me
Rain and snow dripping over me
With no sunshine to warm me
As it once did

Some say there is life after dead,
A thaw after the frost
But I don’t feel it
Or believe I can hold on so long
To see the sun beat down on me
As it once did,
Nor believe I can ever
See myself grow green again


I keep thinking the world ends here
This bit of spilled ink
As my last drop of blood
I keep waiting for the earthquake, the asteroid,
Or the world war that never was,
I keep seeking rising oceans or growing deserts
To drown me or dry me out
I keep hearing the sound
Of my own voice
Droning on and on
About how much
I have not yet done.

When young,
I feared heartache,
Now I dread the attack on my heart,
Waiting, waiting,
Yet not knowing
For what.


You never quite know
What might show
When those red lids open

The lost, losing dilated eyes
I last saw in the late 1960s
Full of worry and political slogans
Full of hope I no longer feel

I sit on a loose seat
On the uptown subway
Wishing for a screw driver
To stop the squeak
My cheeks vibrated
Into the same numbness
My head already feels

The sound track,
The announcer’s voice
Laying out my life’s routines
Amid static and curse words
With me unable to tell
If my stop’s next.


She wanted to know if I really was
A hippie when I was young
And if I was, she wanted to fuck me.
She would have fucked Jimi Hendrix
But she was only ten when he died
This makes her 21 now
Although she still looks 16.
This is the reason all rock & roll boys love her
She never fails to love them back,
In fact, she makes love like a crack addict
full of rage and religion
Raised on the alter of 1960s nostalgia
She was too young to experience for herself
Sucking the marrow out of bones
Of men like me
Giving new meaning to names like
Cream and Deep Purple
Her eyes growing wide as if I was
Always the drug she needed.


If I dream a dream of beauty
I think of you
A word that kisses leaves
With fragrant leaves
Of air so drenched with love
It drips

When stars shine stark
In a winter sky
I know each has a heart
Of heat so intense
No frost can freeze it
No ice can seize me
As to make me
Forget you

I have always been a prospector
A gold digger hunting treasures
In remote soil,
Pounding down rock in search of wealth,
Heartless in my need and greed
After mistaking
The glitter of trivial
For something real

At night, when horror strikes
I still cringe under cover
As wolves howl and cold winds
Chill all I expose
My limbs suffering
The frost bite of life

Each important person and thing
Dropping away from me
As I pound away at nothing
Stones crumbling at my feet
My greed so gripping my heart
I sometimes forget you
Each chip of stone
A piece of me
Worn down into dust
By foolishness and pain,
And yet,
I still think of you.

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