I used to be a party person, honest

 

 

One

 

She did a head trip on herself,

That neon-red-headed punk rocker

Pretending everything was all right,

The punk movement already dying

The way disco did,

She, the 1980s Scarlet OíHara,

Still clinging to the glorious past

As new wave smoldered around her

Cocaine baking the back of her brain

She sitting through a hip party straight

For the first time since she could remember

Watching lines vanish from the table top

Like sand from the top of an hour glass

Each inch of powder as valuable a gold,

1989 instead of 1849

yet with plenty of fools in this rush, too.

She watching each face

Bending over the dusty trail,

She squinting as they squinted,

Her gaze measuring each inch

As if she knew when each took too much,

She and me the only mere mortals

In a room suddenly filled with supermen

She thinking of those times

When she had superpowers, too,

Waking in the morning,

Remembering nothing,

But the vague purple haze

And the sense of despair.

 

 

Two

 

Because I never knew I looked for you

Lip to bleeding lip

Eye to blackened eye

 

I wanted a nipple to suck dry

And hunted for you,

Two of us, worn weary

From searching the jet set

Surrealistic landscape

For something real

 

Our lives like shredded paper

From which we have made

Papier-m‚chť

Keeping things together

With hope and paste.

 

You with a photograph later

Scotch Taped to your dresser mirror

just another hunted criminal

wanted for something,

but without reward

 

 

Three

 

You could hear the nails

Splitting wood above my head

Like the tap, tap, tap of a woodpecker

Or the last gasp of the undertaker

Sealing my coffin.

 

The club set treating me as

I was already dead,

Too old to appreciate

this generationís hip

 

Nobody talks to me at the bar

Except the bartender asking

If I wanted ďanother,Ē

He needing me to make up the volume

My lack of date cost him.

 

Knowing he wouldnít get the tip

He would if I knew I was going to get laid,

The tapping of the juke box music

Making me ache,

No rolling stones or beatles,

No language I could understand

Tap, tap, tapping

Inside my mind.

 

 

Four

 

Iím looking for life with a built in eraser,

So I can rub out all the mistakes Iíve made,

My days written in graphite rather than ink,

Most pages too faded to read.

 

I have more new beginnings than Genesis,

Rarely getting past the point of Cain

Before I have to start over,

 

Each romance tangled with barbed wire

And words of wisdom I never accept,

And wounds running too deep

To ever heal completely.

 

 

Five

 

It was an 8 by 16 inch

Speck of dust

Stuffed between the stars

Along Hollywood Boulevard,

A window stuffed

Sweet dreams

Scantily dressed women

Boys like me ache for in

The menís magazine,

Not quite stark naked,

Nor without purpose

Advertising scant wares

our girls would never

consent to put on

or look as good in if they did,

me, dreaming of that place

and those dolls

even drifting into sleep at night

as if I was the playboy strolling

sunset strip,

clutching the mannequin beside me

over every

stumbling step

 

 

six

 

I dressed up for you in my favorite sweater

Emerging from my morning shower

At the last moment, waiting, still cool

For you to arrive

 

Us strangers after years of silence

Substitute faces in the night

Make-do lovers holding the place in me

I always reserved for you.

 

Though deep down I never forgave you

For letting me go,

That fast lane insanity leading you to other men

You thought might love your more

Than I ever could,

 

Now after so many years

The pebbles clack again in my chest for you,

Making me ache in a way I havenít since your going

As if seeing you I hoped for a rock slide

That would keep you from ever

Leaving again.

 

 

Seven

 

His voice sounded like a crowís,

Cawing each plea for change

As he made his way along Main Street

His gray and wrinkled face

Painted with the pain of survival,

Cold nights sleeping near

A laundryís street-side exhaust

His days stumbling over curbs

In a stagger suited strangers

Blamed on booze,

The weariness of walking

Making his block

A Way of the Cross

Kind people tossing him coins

Store keepers bribing him

With donuts and coffee

For him to beg elsewhere

He rarely complaining

Though he routinely tells

His tale of woes designed

To squeeze a little more from each sucker,

His laughing as thin as crying,

His grimace of a smile

Telling the real story

Of one time importance

We may never know.

 

 

Eight

 

For years I thought

Sex was overrated

People didnít screw around

Nearly as much as they said,

Media making mountains

Out of mole hills

To which Mohammed

Would never come

 

I saw myself as saint

Bearing my cross of self restraint

Aching the lusting souls I saw

Plucking roses at the bar

None fearful of being pricked

By the thorns.

 

But I ached, too,

For the scent I could not smell,

And no midlevel torture

Could have felt so cruel

As those moments of torment

In clubs when I posted watch

On a bar stood

Watching the lost parade go by

 

I imagined all I might do

With any number of the ladies I saw

Me living the Jimmy Carter nightmare,

So intensely full of passing

I shook,

So full of envy I imagined every manís chin

Stained with the juice of forbidden fruit

But mine.

 

Yet I told myself

All other men were just like me

Sex a mere illusion

And the race prospered by some

Mysterious process of pod seeds

Falling out of our ears or eyes

 

I kept thinking love

Would save me

A life preserver

Tossed out to me even

As I sank for the last time,

Over my head in lust

And lack of courage

 

But love was not enough,

And like Mohammed,

It came too late.

 

 

Nine

 

You left me with

Pigeons and squirrels

In River Side Park

 

Cold wind and warm sun

Carving out the details of my day

 

Monday afternoon

Bringing me back in time

To the early days

When our world was created

 

Me, you and a bridge

Across a river named

For a man who used

The river for retreat

 

We locked into a weekly ritual

Of advance and withdrawal,

Me, braving the mists of Avalon

To recover you for

A few brief days

 

Hours squandered on

The concept of love

Each moment squashed for all

We might get out of it.

 

 

Ten

 

The crimson light

Spills into my room

Like red water into a dented metal bowl

Spilling over the ragged, rusted edges

Of my life as if to drown me.

 

The warmth on my cheek

Wakes me before the brightness does

A probing finger searching out each scar

Left over from my dreaming.

 

I can hardly breathe

 

My room remembers the nightmares

Better than I do

Like a record keeper marking out

That hazy landscape

With unintended landmarks,

A sock left here,

A burger wrapper there,

The cobwebs of an unused life

Decorating waking reality

 

I am intimidated by it all,

Rearrange the artistís work

To put each into shapes I can recognize,

Me, blinking blindly against the light,

Wondering the whole time

What the neighbors think

When they see me so exposed.

 

I close eyes,

Preferring dreamscape to reality.

 

 

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