A Portrait

This isn’t what was supposed to be
See you again sometime, ducky, perhaps— goodbye
I don’t know why I thought I could ever be happy here
How fast does this river go?
I can never tell how fast
Racing is death—
the horses always die
Injustices here, there and powerless—
it wears at him
He starts to perform, then looks to escape
All that remains of their former lives
are here within these eggy walls
with their dullish, dirty off-white glow
A life, so far, of compromises and small victories
encased in this stylish, finely, shined armor
He’s here with the blood-suckers,
the crucifiers, carnivores, and swindlers
Defeat after the daring, costly, ruinous campaign
brings his well wrought verbal resignation
But almost getting it done only heightens his longing to stay
This guy, he’s got a high threshold for pain
You should be cautious here because
he won’t feel anything then, no regrets...
Just to see the things he goes through everyday—
even his most spiritless friends are anxious
Fog in the morning, a little
before first light, blurry
astonishes, distorts the full moon view
Even the smartest of us
continually make significant mistakes
The plumbing’s old, leaky
The skylight’s uneven, wrongly placed
There are still some lines he holds dear and
stands behind—progress is his lie,
his tomorrow is no better than today
She was disappointed as she watched him shave
She never envisioned him that way
The woman he loved thinks less of him again
Hard wired to believe something, anything
they say they know everything about him
They spoke of their illnesses and the illnesses
of others like a couple of old men
When the work’s complete it’s complete
The foolish wish continues
like some old-fashioned, overused algorithm
She really loved funerals, this woman
He didn’t like people much
He was always welcome, always went through the club
He spoke to everyone but you never made
a real friend of him, let’s put it that way
When she wants to charm she smiles
When nervous she pulls at her hair
They wanted what they wanted and didn’t care
about each other’s complex motives or their consequences
He didn’t get back for the first crack but then he went halfway back
He has close friends or no friends
He loved a good story but wouldn’t tell one
His old teacher’s teacher told him “You kids don’t
enjoy sex the way we did—you don’t think it’s a sin”
Sometimes the wise also failed him
Helpless doctors, tests and crisis, exhaustion, emotions large
too large to bear, determination, confusion, anger – her caustic desperations
Alone, deep within, hidden, overlooked among millions, forgotten
Rationally it’s false, but emotionally—that’s different
Discomfort and depression were among her constants
He could entrance you but only if he meant to
He wasn’t a briefcase, take home the work kind of guy
He was very good at his particular line
Very good at a narrow, complex field
with huge sums of money at risk
If he didn’t want to do other things we understood
That was his privilege
He wanted wealth, social position, servants, travel but only incidentally
That’s a beautiful rug, I said to him just to talk
Look at it, that’s fine, but don’t walk on it, he told me

-March 25, 2012-