Joy, so close—
He can feel it almost
Just past those orange rivets of sky
over there, over the grassy dust hills,
like specks of silk moonlight
A short way only from the dank, dust tracks
his joy glistens on the surface, kneaded
in tapestries of despair,
emergent and raw


He probably would have died
if he’d kept that up
All those hangers on,
all those sweet drinks, ladies, and drugs
It was easier with no family around to see it—
Easier, obtusely, to enter oblivion
“Don’t stop,” she’d say, as they fucked
“Don’t stop” as they fucked
He didn’t stop, no he didn’t stop...


“It’s clear, he cleverly observed,
that you have given up any pretense
of middle-class, bourgeois respectability”
She would somewhat resent gay men
She felt she had no real sexual power over them
He disdains the “marketing personality”
that “emotional intelligence” so admired today
Those who study what folks generally like and dazzle
us with their smiley charmed ways, accordingly


“I’m not a mat for you to pull out
and then put away”
An old song that, sung first
by a sage in ancient China
who lived alone in the cold mountains
The scars itch him like war wounds
She lacked, let’s just say, a certain loyalty
and hadn’t the discipline
for either friendship or love


The city flushed orange
with a surge of good cheer in the lights
500,000 or more of us in the streets
ecstatic over the end of the war
Craggy men and women I’d never seen
before smiled at me
Men who’d lost an arm or a leg
beamed and chatted amiably
next to buildings pockmarked with bullets


He came from a world
where certain things were discussed
and certain things were not
His voice, its tone, its resonance,
its understated power, reflects that world
She acts nervously along the way
Until she gets there its fear,
irrational fear, until arrival
He lawyers her for now, he defends her


Somewhat regretful
and a little forgetful
Without that searing golden bling
without those pearly jewels, alone
Just try to survive here,
just try to make it alone
It will cost you your good energy
and time, like unspoken violence,
like the silence between the notes


The others in the trade
had no strong feelings about his work
They couldn’t care less, actually
though they certainly envied his sales
He liked the way I played the acoustic guitar
she said, he wanted me to play guitar
Sing of our sorrows and desperation,
as only you can, he said
Trip through the notes like you can


The things we tell everyone
The things we tell to a few
The things we tell our lovers
The things we tell ourselves
The things we never tell
even to ourselves
You ask why these poems are sad
It’s because these poems are songs
and true songs are sad



– September 28, 2013 –