Singing the songs of my country,
Singing the songs of my land,
Serenading broken countrymen
Writing their dreams in the sand.
Telling the stories of our history,
All the lessons we should have learned:
The path that says it leads to greatness
Ends with human bodies being burned.
If you tell it often enough
Every lie can seem to be true,
The bigger the lie the better, it seems.
The great crowds won’t have a clue.
Trained to reject the evidence of your eyes,
You’ll see what they tell you to see,
Think what they tell you to think.
All the time believing you are free
This is how democracy ends:
With thunderous applause.
Sew the seeds of dissident rebellion,
Give voice to a sacred cause.
These fragments are from a very early draft of Summer of a Doormouse in which the main narrative followed directly after the Prologue instead of going into a flashback as it does in the version of Chapter I posted on this blog. You may notice some discontinuity between these fragments and the other posted parts of Summer of a Doormouse. This is because they come from two different drafts. I do not have a copy of my original draft of the prologue on my computer. I’m missing it and other pieces of the first draft, though I believe I have them in storage somewhere. If I locate them I will post them.
29 December 1979
His delicate, somewhat attractive, feminine features are now drawn, shallow, and sickly. The light build that I’d once found strangely alluring is now repulsively frail. The over sized nose, which I had once defended as being aristocratic, now seems swollen and bulbous. Eyes that once transmitted so much emotion, be it laughter or tears, are now glassy and bloodshot. His hair hangs long, stringy, and unwashed. I don’t think he’s shaved or bathed in at least three days. It would seem that he’s turned destroying his life, among other things, into an art form. Continue reading
Early morning wake up for a trip
Long planned, suddenly upon us.
A month ago this day was
A thousand years away.
Today millennia blinked an eye.
Hospital arrival through automatic doors,
Check-ins, name called
Preparation for surgery.
IVs—how many veins get blown,
Bleeding on sterilized bed-sheets,
before an OR nurse will ask for help?
(The answer is “Two”)
Anesthesiologist comes to time travel you
To the other side of the operation;
Family takes the slow path in the waiting area:
Excitement, fear; anxiety.
Recovery waking in a
Strangely familiar hospital room
Dry throat, thirsty lips
Nothing to drink until
All holes confirmed plugged.
Have a refreshing damp Q-tip instead!
Hospital days and nights blur one on another
Resting erratic naps interrupted
By medication, tests and x-rays,
Poking & prodding; beeping and buzzing.
Released finally home,
To sleep uncomfortably in your own bed,
Liquid elixir Tylenol and Vicodin,
For the pain to stop.
Once upon a time
I saw you turn water into wine
The wine sat alone in the cellar
And no one has the guts to tell her
While wine gets better with age
She’s just muddy vinegar at this stage
Watching the change to fascist regimes
Leonard Cohen haunts my walking dreams
The promise that Democracy will finally come
Orwellian nightmares causing my soul to numb
Though you’ve yet to be grabbed or kissed
Each of us have a duty to stand and resist
Should I even be here at my age,
Watching amateur actors prance on the stage?
What advice could I dare bequeath them,
A tip of the hat, a sad and sincere “Shalom aleikhem”
I could try and turn vinegar back into wine
Maybe it would have worked, once upon a time.
Added 2/17/17: There is now a video available of me reading this poem:
Added 3/25/17: You can also just listen to the audio, if you wish:
Lured in by your charmes
An addict from just one touch
I can’t ever quit
You’re my all; my ev’rything
I don’t love you, I need you.
This poem is my response to Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Challenge #18 – “Charm & Touch”
These is a revised version of the first Alternate prologue for my unfinished Summer of a Doormouse project. It was written around 4 years later in October 2008. It is, if I’m not mistaken, the last major work I did on this project.
Summer of a Doormouse
Through the dirty mud smudged bus window I watch as New Jersey blends into Pennsylvania, traveling to a meeting where a complete stranger will decide my future. I am alone, without a home. Not that I am homeless by any means. I live in a dorm room at Columbia University in Manhattan, while the majority of my belongings reside with my fiance in Pennsylvania in the apartment we share when I’m not at school. But neither of these feels much like “home” anymore, if indeed they ever did. Strangely, the Columbia dorm room feels more like a home than my fiance’s apartment these days, and not merely because I spend the majority of my time there. I hesitate to let the thought crack my conscious mind, but I feel her life slipping away from mine, as though we were still “together” out of habit as much as anything else. How telling is it that I am returning to Shillington briefly for a bankruptcy hearing and she could find no time to see me while I’m here. Continue reading
This prose fragment is an alternate beginning to Summer of a Doormouse. This version of the story never got passed this point. A few years later I rewrote this prologue pretty extensively, but didn’t get any further.
Summer of a Doormouse
The years peel back like an onion as memories float by outside the dirty Greyhound window. So long ago it seems a dream, or a story told to me long ago about someone else. Maybe it didn’t happen at all. Could it all just be a story I’ve told myself so often, trying to get the details right, that it seems real to me now?
The bus travels through the Lincoln Tunnel toward New Jersey as I write, the vibration of the bus on the road making it difficult to write legibly, which is always a challenge when my brain talks faster than my hand can write.
To be sure its a story I’ve attempted to tell many time over the past few decades, always with little success. I even tried piggy backing, marrying it to another unfinished story by another author. It was a good story built around a grand dream. But it wasn’t my dream; it wasn’t my story. Its hard enough in life to try and live out your own dreams without trying to tackle someone else’s as well.
I’m traveling home now for a brief meeting with my lawyer. I don’t recall any lawyers from my dreams, but sometimes in real life you must meet with lawyers. Despite what you may have heard, life is not a dream. Continue reading
Clouds are gathering
A storm on the horizon
Colors fade away
Light your fires in the night
Pray the sun comes up again
This is my response to Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Challenge #17 – “Storm & Color”
High water rising,
Gently caress my collar bone,
Drip drops and patient streams
Wear away granite stones.
Wet wool weighs down,
Fingers bleed climbing garages,
Trying desperately not to drown.
Flood waters flowing,
Creeping the curve of my lips,
Neck stretched, stomach clenched,
Knees knocking atop toe tips.
Rivers run deep and muddy,
The valley floor will disappear,
Thunder shakes to the marrow,
Lightening crackles the atmosphere.
Lips pursed tight,
Almost as tight as my asshole,
Struggle to nose above the water,
This is the way the dice roll.
The sun is shining
Snow and ice melting
Flash floods on the way