Laying Awake in the Darkness

I’ve felt old and ancient
Since I was 12 years old,
Worn out, road weary,
For reasons unexplained
Living in the Cleaver household
In an idyllic isolated Oregon valley.

It made me want to believe in reincarnation,
The only explanation for the
Spread thin butter feeling
That started in the 3rd grade
When I reasoned out
That death meant oblivion
Not fluffy clouds and angels,
Training myself not to think of it,
To fend off the icy black hole
Opening under my sternum,
Crushing everything within its event horizon.

I lay in bed, tears streaming cheeks,
meaninglesness pressing down; suffocating
I start to scream,
Pretending to have had a nightmare,
So my mother will come, hold, and console.
Unable to articulate the existential crisis
Of an 8 year old boy.

10/26-10/28/17

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Reflection (Senryu)

Hollow haunted eyes
Looking back from the mirror
A ghost wrapped in flesh.

10/11/17

This is my response to Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Tuesday Challenge No. 54: GHOST & HAUNT.

Make-Up

I paint on a smile
And play the game
My make-up is always perfect
But never quite the same.

I’m Mr. Bad Guy
I’ll spit in your face for a laugh,
For laughter hides the pain
That tore my world in half.

I’m pleased when you’re happy
And indifferent when you cry,
All the time concealing
A secret wish to die.

I’m the angry young man,
I stand alone with my pain
And I’m constantly fighting
Just to keep myself sane.

But the fighting is useless,
Its a battle I cannot win,
I’ll die with my fist clenched
Clutching a bottle of gin.

I’m the great pretender
Pretending that nothing’s wrong,
I please everyone but me,
By pretending that I belong.

My act is never ending
As I try to find the perfect part
The one that hides away forever
This pitiful broken heart

But I can’t go on like this forever
I won’t survive for long
By living other people’s lives
And singing someone else’s song

My make-up is wearing this now
I mustn’t let anyone know
As I try to find the will
To go on with the show

24 March-19 April 1993, Gießen, Germany

A old piece from my files, which was inspired in part by the music and lyrics of Freddie Mercury and Queen.

Reflections, Part I

There’s nothing left to say
There’s nothing left to feel

There’s no one left to save
There’s no one left to heal

There’s no reason left to cry
There’s nothing left to write

There’s no reason left to die
That’s really worth the fight.

4 January 1993, Gießen, Germany

This is another old piece from my files. It has a companion poem called Reflections, Part II.

The Last Secret

Your dog was left in her living room,
Still on his leash.
This the only note you left,
The only sign that something
Was horribly wrong.

Alone you walked,
The salty breeze blown
From the Pacific.

How long did you sit
Listening to the rhythm of the waves—
Your thoughts totally and forever your own?
Your last secret,
Under the stars, among the waves.

Why? Why didn’t you pick up the phone
Instead of picking up the gun?

8/27/17

Survival Skills

In the chasm between dreams and reality
Falls pain and disappointment,
Bridged by madness and hope,
Holding off the suffocating
Black blanket of eternal night.

5/29-6/3/17

Reoccurring Dreams

The dreams return,
Can’t stop them from coming,
Dreams of the past,
Relived like a robot,
Unable to deviate from programming.

Dreams of things that never happened
–that never could–
But I that know to be true:
On stage alone,
Ukulele-playing Tangled Up In Blue,
Rock-Band-Playing
Won’t Get Fooled Again,
Sharing a backstage drink with
Early ’80s Pete Townshend,
Toasting a fallen friend,
Fidgeting for a fix.

Dreams of the future,
Not flying-car Flash Gordon future,
No Starships or monoliths.
The real future, my future:
The coming darkness,
Depression and death.
Standing on the beach
Feeling old and tired,
Isolated; alone,
Ready for the end.
But I’m wrong.

5/29/17

Adapted from Chapter II of Summer of a Doormouse.

How Many Times?

My knees are weak and swollen,
My joints creak and pop,
My feet ache, my toes are numb.
Worn down, almost broken,
No cartilage left in my soul.
I’m tired and need a nap
As soon as I get out of bed.

How many times can you fall
Before your arms are too weak
To get back up?
How many time before your soul’s too weak
To even try?

Spider swimming upstream,
Water circling the drain,
The sun going down, going out.

5/19/17

So Tired of the War

Sopping wet cotton towel
Laid across broad shoulders,
Heavy, cold; pressing down
Like two one ton granite boulders.

Frosty goose skinned arms
Shivering in the back of the night
Blurred vision, runny nose,
No energy left to fight.

Enemy within, enemy without
This war just needs to end.
Losses heavy, steaks so high,
The home-front can’t comprehend.

The end’s in sight, the pain will stop,
No longer be afraid:
This old soldier’s mission ends
When in the ground he’s laid.

4/12/17

Poem #13 for National Poetry Writing Month (aka #NaPoWriMo)

Its Hard (a Tanka)

Harder and harder
To breath, climbing up the hill
Harder and harder
To not cry out in pain and
Pray to rest in the soft dirt.

4/11/17

Poem #12 for National Poetry Writing Month (aka #NaPoWriMo)

This Tanka is my first response to Colleen’s Weekly #Poetry Challenge # 28 – HARD & SOFT. I am honored to say that Colleen named me this week’s “Poet of the Week,” based on my tanka The Mask, which was a response to last week’s challenge.