something’s knocking at the door
a great white light dawns across the continent
as we fawn over our failed traditions
often kill to preserve them
or sometimes kill just to kill.
it doesn’t seem to matter: the answers dangle just
out of reach,
out of hand, out of mind.
the leaders of the past were insufficient,
the leaders of the present are unprepared.
we curl up tightly in our beds at night and wait.
it is a waiting without hope, more like
a prayer for unmerited grace.
it looks more and more like the same old movie.
the actors are different but the plot’s the same:
we should have known, watching our fathers.
we should have known, watching our mothers.
they did not know, they too were not prepared to teach.
we were too naive to ignore their counsel
and now we have embraced their
ignorance as our
we are them, multiplied.
we are their unpaid debts.
we are bankrupt
in money and
there are a few exceptions, of course,
but these teeter on the
at any moment
tumble down to join the rest
the raving, the battered, the blind and the sadly
a great white light dawns across the continent,
the flowers open blindly in the stinking wind,
as grotesque and ultimately
our 21st century
struggles to be
I know a woman
who keeps buying puzzles
pieces that finally fit
into some order.
she works it out
she solves all her
lives down by the sea
puts sugar out for the ants
in a better world.
her hair is white
she seldom combs it
her teeth are snaggled
and she wears loose shapeless
coveralls over a body most
women would wish they had.
for many years she irritated me
with what I consider her
like soaking eggshells in water
(to feed the plants so that
they’d get calcium).
but finally when I think of her
and compare it to other lives
more dazzling, original
I realize that she has hurt fewer
people than anybody I know
(and by hurt I simply mean hurt).
she has had some terrible times,
times when maybe I should have
helped her more
for she is the mother of my only
and we were once great lovers,
but she has come through
like I said
she has hurt fewer people than
anybody I know,
and if you look at it like that,
she has created a better world.
she has won.
“…when He created you lying in bed
He knew what He was doing
He was drunk and He was high
and He created the mountains and the sea and fire at the same time
He made some mistakes
but when He created you lying in bed
He came all over His Blessed Universe.”
when you’re young
a pair of
in the closet
can fire your
when you’re old
a pair of shoes
I’ve come by, she says, to tell you
that this is it. I’m not kidding, it’s
over. this is it.
I sit on the couch watching her arrange
her long red hair before my bedroom
she pulls her hair up and
piles it on top of her head-
she lets her eyes look at
then she drops her hair and
lets it fall down in front of her face.
we go to bed and I hold her
speechlessly from the back
my arm around her neck
I touch her wrists and hands
feel up to
she gets up.
this is it, she says,
this will do. well,
I get up and walk her
to the door
just as she leaves
I want you to buy me
some high-heeled shoes
with tall thin spikes,
black high-heeled shoes.
no, I want them
I watch her walk down the cement walk
under the trees
she walks all right and
as the pointsettas drip in the sun
I close the door.
the words have come and gone,
I sit ill.
the phone rings, the cats sleep.
I am waiting to live,
waiting to die.
I wish I could ring in some bravery.
it’s a lousy fix
but the tree outside doesn’t know:
I watch it moving with the wind
in the late afternoon sun.
there’s nothing to declare here,
just a waiting.
each faces it alone.
Oh, I was once young,
Oh, I was once unbelievably
“ Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, ‘I’m not going to make it,’ but you laugh inside remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”
“there are worse things than being alone but it often takes decades to realize this and most often when you do it’s too late and there’s nothing worse than too late.”
“If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose”
“Humanity, you never had it to begin with.”
“This is a world where everybody’s gotta do something. Ya know, somebody laid down this rule that everybody’s gotta do something, they gotta be something. You know, a dentist, a glider pilot, a narc, a janitor, a preacher, all that … Sometimes I just get tired of thinking of all the things that I don’t wanna do. All the things that I don’t wanna be. Places I don’t wanna go, like India, like getting my teeth cleaned. Save the whale, all that, I don’t understand that …”
“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”
~ Charles Bukowski