I’m not sure how to say this.
My life consisted of a little green bundle
Of memories all rolled up into
One nicely packed joint.
And then I smoked it.
Through the dull haze I
Remember that it happened in chunks.
The time I lived in Nova Scotia, dancing
The lead in The Nutcracker and thinking
That it couldn’t get any better than this.
Realizing shortly after that perhaps I was right.
The time I lived in Toronto, knowing
What I wanted to do but not how
To do it. I trudged forward through the slush
Being heaped onto me
Accepting the wet socks for what they were.
When I feel control slipping
Away I crawl into bed, sheets
Pulled up over my face. As
I lie there I look at my life backwards,
Examining every moment that led to
Each moment. What I did and
What I could have done.
But when I can no longer feel the words fall into order,
I rely on images that can barely express what
I am trying to say.
The cards can be stacked in
All the right places, and the
Unforeseen wind can still
Knock them over.
Through this muddled mess of
Cards I rebuild myself time and time
Again. Each time being careful to close
The window. To shut out the obtrusive breeze
That no number of bolts can hold
And will always find its way back in.
I search for the light though,
In hope that one day I will
Get it right. I know I
Have all the cards, even
Counted all fifty two, making sure.
The problem is in finding
That precarious balance
That I need.
When the frustration becomes too
Great, and at the end of the day
I am still left with a pile of
Mixed up numbers and faces
At my feet, I look for other
Ways to relieve the pressure.
A place where
It’s okay to
Feel out of control.
Where I can allow myself to coast to the top,
And in that moment of suspension
Accept the fate that I caused,
Sometimes arms raised in elation.
Sometimes gripping the bar
White knuckled with fear.
Like that time I just said yes,
Rather than sitting there debating.
Instead, I packed my bags and was
On a plane the next morning,
Off to the island destination of
Rotan, Honduras, where I spent
A week with my feet in the sand.
But I digress.
While on these rides I can’t
Always control who is
Going to assume the seat
Next to me. These chance
Encounterings have the power to
Inflict change, start a watershed to
Whisk me into the next scene of my play.
It has been my experience
That these actors, without permission,
Simply write themselves in. Sometimes
(Rather always) they lack the Same sense
Of poetics that I myself prefer to
Weave, yet it provides a nice break
For the audience, just as the play
Starts to drag on.
And just when I think I’ve adjusted
To this change, and my writing has adapted
To their offbeat syntax, they quit.
Not even giving the customary
Two weeks notice.
And yet they were still there
No matter how brief.
So in my program
These extras take their
The childhood sweetheart I’ll never see again.
The pot head I never could change.
The bad boy I never wanted to change.
The music man on top of that mountain.
The European who literally found me when I was lost.
The German whom I was forced to regret.
The jock I hate to love.
The Cabana boy under the stars.
The American boy under those same stars.
The Brit more American than them all.
The Lebanese guy who broke me and took a piece.
The friend who was there for it all.
They are only a small part of the
Stanza that make up my pieces.
Ink is expensive, after all.
And even when the theatre empties
The ballet continues.
I met a man last week
A faceless smudge from
Across the bar somehow
Standing out from the rest.
It starts with a point
That I’ve always needed to prove.
The competition I compete in
High on the liquid cocaines
Pulsating steadily through me, I
Perform my well-oiled routine:
Starts with the eyes peeking out
From under long lashes.
Knees accidentally brush,
Lingering for the perfect
Amount of too long.
Head remains cocked
One suggestive bite
Of the lip later and
They are ready for
The grand finale.
But this time it didn’t work
The way it usually does.
This time it wasn’t feigned interest.
He had something to say.
Now I’m the one stuck.
He won. I lost.
Then one day he will be gone
Just like the rest of them.
And at that time
I’ll take a single moment
Erasing him from
My pages even though the grain
Of wood has already left
It’s print but I will continue
To scrub until the lead is
Only a phantom trace
And easy to ignore.
And then move on.
It’s usually for the best anyways,
I enjoy it while it lasts.
Besides, there is always another one
More than willing to take his place.
I say this not to brag,
But to set in ink the girl
That I am today
Because I do not know
Where she is going to be
In a year, or if I’ll miss her
When she’s gone.
For now, I suppose, I will continue
On my way,
Noting that the faster I walk
The more important the
Thing I have to do becomes.
That’s what it’s all about
Seeing how much stuff
I can get done
In this short amount
Of time that doesn’t
Feel all that short.
So until that time I will fill my
rhyme with senseless boys and
I’ll float from job
To job, traverse the
Waters, allow myself
To be seized by the
Maybe start a family simply
Out of unadulterated boredom.
Worse comes to worse,
Maybe I did miscount
And will be
Forced to improvise.
Forced to handcraft
New cards just so I can finish
Move into my castle, and then
Promptly move away.
I’m pretty handy like
But back to the socks:
Socks which are wet defeat the purpose
Of wearing socks in the first place. Yet
At least they have a set purpose,
A predetermined point.
I never liked socks much anyways.
*Originally published in Jonah Magazine