The ABC’s of Idolatry (Part I)
Sometimes I wish I was Another poet.
One who, for reasons I can be proud of,
Is liked by the facile cognoscenti.
One who is unlike me in many ways;
Who is stronger than inertia
And wants to be no one but himself.
Sometimes I wish I was enduring Bukowski
Retching blood into a rusty drain
In a flea-pit near an L.A. wharf.
Proud of my defecations.
A brutal caricature of my own work
Stabbing a finger into every landlord’s eye.
Sometimes I wish I was smooth Cohen
At ease in a suit and tie
With, of course, those fawning women
Hollowed to give my verse depth;
Curved to give my stooped frame
The enduring illusion of stature.
Sometimes I wish I was wild Dylan Thomas.
Happy in the shorter English words;
Unhappy short of English money.
My beginning in aged Wales;
My ending in young America.
Drinking like a Celtic god of the sea.
Sometimes I wish I was natty Eliot.
Complexity my constant criterion;
The nameless king and Boston doubt
Bolstering the spine of my creations;
An embarrassed victim of fashion
With a wasteland under my belt.
Sometimes I wish I was quiet Frost
Comfortably laconic and rural;
Soft and profound as amnesia;
Seeing want, pain, loss and disaster
Unfurl their divine purposes
Across the landscape of God’s excuses.
Sometimes I wish I was great Goethe.
Beloved as a national treasure.
Teutonic Titan with a two-ten IQ
Defining hubris for the World.
Hauling the names of streets and institutes
Inside the curlicues of my wide autograph.
Sometimes I wish I was sharp Victor Hugo.
Did very well in school;
Did very well in everything afterwards.
Going tête-à-tête avec Napoleon le Petit.
Producing masterpieces as easily
As Paris produces orphans.
Sometimes I wish I was cold Ibsen.
A scribbling nihilist snowman
Cozy on even the longest nights.
Post-modern enough to excuse adultery.
Self-possessed and certain enough
To laugh at women, marriage and the insane.
Sometimes I wish I was lusty James K. Baxter
Mad as four hatters and horny as Hell
Lying naked in a commune
With my canon catalogued and compiled
Years before the heart-rot took its toll.
Ironically buried in a canon-less language.
He Bought a Dog Today
Jesus wept as well he should;
Marriage isn’t brotherhood.
A wife will scream misunderstood,
Then the children’s portraits fall.
Half a hand and a smaller heart,
He’ll step out instead of start,
Paint the horse before the cart
And make virtues of it all.
The father tires in the master race,
The husband limps to the next disgrace,
The son screws up his Herod’s face,
And the shepherd soils the word.
The perfect storm begins to build,
Slower birds are quickly killed,
Shallow graves are quickly filled
With shadows and the surge.
Hiding from the neighbor’s glare
Too much yellow fills the air,
Too much for the shades to bear,
So he shakes them off his bed.
Trying to blow and trying to suck
Both lips tight-pressed for luck
Dotted lines from the nip and tuck
Morse-code across his head.
Any games he might have known
He’s forgotten or outgrown.
Shaved his hair off to the bone
To take up staring in the night.
But in his garden kids still play
So he bought a dog today
To chase their laughter far away
If the training goes alright.
Ten Minutes Wrestling
I rush the pangs of the newly risen hunger
To a bed spread smooth by hands cool after prayer
Where moments pressed into the tattling bedsprings
Catapult through the dark for all to share.
Ten minutes worth of wrestling and it’s over
The fireworks return the darkness to the night
And like a paratrooper landing wrongly in a brewery
I roll gasping in unparalleled delight.
The Caveat of Icarus
He flew to the sun
High in a vast blueness
Strapped into someone else’s wings.
I’m not surprised his falling took so long.
Decades of self-recrimination,
Centuries of earned suffering,
Millennia of horror on that fatal dive
Into the face of another vast blueness.
But, if it should ease his ghost’s conscience any,
I, at least, have learned his lesson well.
I heed the caveat of Icarus in everything I do.
Or don’t do, as the case may be.