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.

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Reflections, Part II

No one is listening,
But everyone is talking

No one is traveling,
But everyone is walking

No one is reading,
But everyone is writing

No one is eating,
But everyone is biting

No one is working,
‘cos everyone is lazy

No one is crying
‘cos everyone is crazy

2-4 January 1993, Gießen, Germany

An old piece from my files. It is a sequel/companion to Reflections, Part I.

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.

Still on the Road

Driving down the poison highway
Through the nightmares of my youth:
Saccharine poetry, suicidal thoughts;
Disastrous experiments with vermouth.

Sterilizing self-inflicted wounds
With tequila, scotch and beer.
Bathed in sticky sweat,
Self-loathing, and fear.

Decades down a dusty highway
Through the terrors of middle-age:
Thinning hair; graying beard
Covering the still smoldering rage.

Calming the demons of the mind
With a single chilled glass of mead,
Wounds healed; scars run deep,
And occasionally still bleed.

Seeking release from suffering
In Athens; under an old fig tree.
A chance to finally flourish,
Living life in true equanimity.

9/27/17

My Generation

I wasn’t born with a club foot
I didn’t fight in Vietnam
I didn’t teach at Columbia
I wasn’t fooled by Nixon’s charms

My generation was as lost as Hemingway’s
And just as productive.

I didn’t escape Minnesota in a snowstorm,
I didn’t go mad at Arfderydd
I didn’t smash a guitar at Woodstock
I didn’t drown in Delacroix

My generation was just as angry as Townshend’s
And just as destructive.

Note:
Arfderydd is pronounced Arf-der-ith (“th” as in father)

Margaret (Dream #4)

I’m sorry, Margaret
I didn’t mean to hurt you.
I just did what I thought was right
But some things are more important than virtue.

It didn’t really click
Until I saw that look in your eye
The look you thought you could hide from me
As you gathered up my books and tried not to cry.

This wasn’t some strange lustful urge,
Or some mad irrational whim,
This must’ve really been important to you
If it meant going out on such a limb.

And in trying to protect our honor
I hurt a very good friend,
By trying to be virtuous I forgot
That love is all that matters in the end.

1 December 1993 / San Antonio, TX

Broken Hearts

We are the broken men
We hold our broken hearts,
We are the stupid men
Chasing those stupid tarts.

See the hollow man
With his hollow soul
Gazing at the dawn
Wishing to be whole.

See the golden angel
With her golden hair
Wondering what broke him
If there’s any hope of repair

See the golden light
Reflected from golden wings
The source of salvation
Of which the singer sings

See those stupid men,
Moaning dirge-like tunes
Crying, rubbing salt
In their self-inflicted wounds.

These are the broken men
Clutching their broken hearts,
Trapped in the plays they wrote
Dutifully playing their broken parts.

1991/2017

I wrote the bulk of this during my senior year in high school, around 26 years ago, influenced more than a little by T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men. I ran across it today in a box full of old poetry, edited it, and added to it.

Toys in the Attic

The lunatic is in my room,
I never thought he’d find me so soon

The lunatic is in my chair,
Running his fingers through my hair

The lunatic has slept in my bed,
If only I could remember what he said

The lunatic is watching my TV,
His hand resting on my knee

The lunatic is wearing my clothes,
What is it he thinks he knows?

The lunatic is using my pen,
He’s toying with me again

The lunatic is trying to make me cry,
Showing me he’s no longer afraid to die

– 2 January 1993 / Gießen, Germany

Written 24 years ago after listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall one too many times.

From a Dream

This poem was written during my senior year in high school when I was 17 years old. Some of the poems I wrote back then really make me cringe, but I’ve always had a soft spot for this one. I lightly edited the punctuation, but otherwise it appears below just as written 26 years ago.

You don’t seem to care anymore
(Said she)
Turning into such a lousy bore
(Who me?)
Like a drunk who can no longer hear
(Can’t you see?)
You don’t really need that beer
(But does she?)
Problems like that, we only dream about
(Do we?)
When did you become so stout?
(Not me.)
Like a driver when…
(When she…)
I was just dreaming, and then…
(Then she…)
Not the way I drink…
(Yes, me!)
You’re nearly on the brink!
(Just me)
Why should I care, can’t you see?
(Just me…)
Who cares for me?
(Help me…)

7 February 1991

Into the Woods

For Henry David Thoreau

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Live life deliberately,
Minute by minute
Day by day,
Mindful of every moment
From birth to ultimate decay.

Don’t be distracted
By trivialities, luxuries;
Empty goals for which the desperate strive,
And realize at the graveyard gate
That you were never truly alive.

7/14/17