(Writing wretched verse so you don’t have to since 1995)
It’s got nothing to do with nothing, pal,
if you wanna know the truth.
Just a bit of mood indigo to cash the hours…
I could swim in that voice of his,
that sad supple voice,
could swim all the way back to:
Nothing to do with nothing, pal.
But you might find me here anyway, might,
minding my own over not much
of a jukebox in this joint that murmurs
Indigo … mood indigo,
where booze smears the unforgiven with hope,
the ugly swaying prettily in dim light;
me and us all crowded at the bottom of this
city, unforgotten by our mistakes
and permanent as pickled eggs.
I might tell you a story all about
it some day, a real barstool benediction.
Maybe you would believe me then, when I tell you
there’s places you wouldn’t want to go,
people you wouldn’t want to be.
Let’s just start with the basics: I am not a fan of Frank Sinatra. I know almost nothing about his music. I’ve heard perhaps a half dozen of his songs. It is the province of the Bad Poet to speak with the utmost emotional authority about such subjects. Facts, as the Bad Poet Ronald Reagan reminds us, are stupid things. Or perhaps he meant “pickled eggs.” I always get those two mixed up.
So why write about Sinatra? Why spell “barstool” as one word? Why use the word “benediction” without any precise grasp of its definition? What’s with all these questions? I’m a Bad Poet, dammit! I exist to make impulsive decisions that feel right. I’m a lot like Ronald Reagan in that way.
This one got crapped out in my Somerville place, I’m pretty sure. It has all the feculent markings of my Fraudulent Grit Series. These were poems set in and around bars, and which suggested that I was some kind of wounded Bukowski type, grinding soulfully through my lonely hours. Or okay, maybe not Bukowski. Maybe more like … John O’Hara? Mickey Rourke in Barfly? Shit. Someone.
The point is I was really unhappy and thus driven to drink and this drinking made me expansive, provided me access to the true precincts of sorrow.
I don’t drink and hardly ever go to bars and I spend very little time with drunk people – but you knew that already. What I wanted was the romance of inebriation, the right to get sloppy with the language, to stumble gracefully into the excruciating self-pity of that last stanza. Christ. I should have been hazed by a Southern frat. I should have been taken out back by Frank’s thugs and explained a few things. But I probably would have liked that.
Kristin Rourke of Gualala, CA almost certainly would have liked that. She’s one of these bad poets who is able to name check Katrina and the Waves and imply a working knowledge of Tarot, all while grinning like a Chesire Cat. Oh Christ, baby, give it to me hard…
I am walking on concrete, not
sunshine, like someone said.
There isn’t any sun to shine
nor moon to reflect in your eyes.
It’s overcast, and looks like it might rain—
not the clear summer rain that brings
something clean to the air. This is winter
rain. Later the streets will be ice. I will be
inside and you will be at home, not returning
my phone calls. That is OK.
I lay my cards in front of me, searching
for a clue, any evidence I have been missing
until now. I have the two of batons, fire, reversed.
Pride. Arrogance. I have the water mother,
the Queen of Cups, compassion.
The last card, the future, is troubling.
I do not know how to read
the moon reversed, don’t want to believe
my heart is eating me.
I want to cast the cards again but know
that they will sing the same message.
I wait for your call, but it is midnight,
that same moon smiling its Cheshire grin
on the card smiles in the sky, from behind
Sometimes I am afraid
of your shadow, though I am not afraid
of you. Eerie double that grows longer
as the day grows shorter. I water the rose tree
on my desk before I sleep, cover it in dew
and watch the beads slide into the center of the
solitary scarlet flower, disappearing
into the heart of the bloom.
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