Confessions Among Strangers

They said his poetry killed him
Actually not his poetry–
But the long sleepless nights
Filled with shameless darkness
The sort you only know
If you stare long enough
Into the abyss of your soul
Looking for something to confess–
Something to take away the pain

Good poetry isn’t easy
Unless it rips your guts out
Stripping you naked of the clothes
You wore to first communion–
That inconvenient place of passive confession
Where all the other strangers stood watch
As you took your first drink–
Tasted the salty blood of life

And where are they now–the strangers
When you need a witness
As the last thread of pride slips off your shoulder
Into the tall empty glass you call your life–
The glass giving you the courage
To mouth your pathetic confessions

Before he died
He whispered with stinking breath to his only sister–
Something about an idea for a new poem–
One about an bitter old man who died
Because he drank his own blood
Hoping he might live through one more night
And at the break of dawn
Confess one last time to a stranger

First Confession

Sometimes I question myself–
Whether I can ever live up
To your expectations of me–
That unfulfilled part of you
Which you foist on me

Sometimes I’d rather be a stranger
To you, everyone, even myself
Then I could stop being the chameleon–
The pretender that pretends to be
Whatever you or I think I should be

I hated my parents for the longest time
Because they wouldn’t let me be who I wanted to be
Then I stopped hating them
When I realized my ideas for myself
Were even worse than those they had for me

My vision grows more blurred each day by all the notions–
Lame ideas about who I am, what I should be
That’s a good thing–
Sometimes we spend too much time looking for ourselves
When all we need is to just be

On the Metaphysics of Old Age Clumsiness

A certain clumsiness comes with old age
Almost another adolescence
We stumble–
On our words, footsteps, and
even our prognostications about life
All else keeping us awake at night

A certain clumsiness comes with old age
Even when we’re just sixty
Thinking back, I remember
When my parents were where I am today–
Clumsily closer to nonexistence–
Where all is lost, including ourselves

A certain clumsiness comes with old age
And then, there is nothing
Even the clumsiness ends
Once we get out of our own way
And allow our stream of existence to empty back
Into life’s sea of new possibilities

The Thief

The Eighth Commandment–
Thou shalt not steal
And what did he do?
He stole her joy
With every breath he took–away
the very thing for which she lived

When he could longer care for himself
She brought him into her home–
Her most sacred place
Where her life was her own
The place she slowly healed, day by day
From his lifelong abusive words and ways

He still smoked–
In her bed, which she gave up to him
Because she had no other choice
He was her father–
The man whose seeds grew to become her
Inside her mother’s womb

The lung cancer had spread to his throat–
the channel carrying his venomous words–
to the scaly white lips that lived to hold a cigarette
and puff smoke like a volcano ready to blow

He blamed the doctor
for not making him quit years ago
She knew better–
because cigarettes and beer were his life–
his most sacred place
Where he hid from his daughter’s love
The torture chamber in which he lived
And day after day beat himself

She hated cleaning up after him
Not just the filled ash trays on the night stand
But having to hold him while he urinated, and
emptying the bedpan where twice a day
he spilled his foul guts

One morning, he struggled to urinate
Finally there was a stream
For just one second, she thought
he was grateful for her help, but
quickly she realized it was just his selfish body
savoring the relief of his empty bladder

He died on February 16th at 3:12 am
She was there with him, holding his cold boney hand–
the hand that never held hers as a little girl
The hand always ready to slap and hit her, and
anybody else making him feel loved

She didn’t cry
All her tears were used up years ago
She felt relief, when
the two emergency technicians lifted him from her bed–
the bed she vowed to dismantle, and burn
piece by piece in the trash barrel in her backyard
It would be her way of cleansing herself, and
forgiving the man who stole her joy