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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Turning into such a lousy bore
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
When did you become so stout?
Like a driver when…
I was just dreaming, and then…
Not the way I drink…
You’re nearly on the brink!
Why should I care, can’t you see?
Who cares for me?
7 February 1991
When going to battle monsters,
Surely the noblest of deeds,
Don’t lose sight of your purpose,
Abandoning your noble creeds.
Don’t be so desperate to win
That noble ends justify any means,
Stained in blood and life of men,
Just like all the other fiends.
No one does evil on purpose,
We all always think we’re right,
‘Til our deeds come back to haunt us
In the dismal darkness of the night.
Standing on the Rubicon shore,
You think you know what to do,
But as you gaze into the Abyss
Know that its gazing into you.
Looking at reflections in jagged shards
of a shattered mirror,
The fall of twilight’s shadow
grows ever nearer,
But when you see the reaping angel
There’s no real reason to fear her.
Remember the words and visions
of the blind Nordic seer
The promises made of runes
sworn on the life of Sleipnir:
Bridges will burn, stars will fall,
Witness it with your own eyes.
Life wanes, blood flows,
Darkness alone fills the skies.
Smoke will settle, the fires cool,
And the Sun will once again rise.
Note: Sleipnir is pronounced “Slayp-near”
Image: Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse by Mike Craghead
Rhymed or un-rhymed
Formal or informal
Metered or free.
Long or short
Macro or micro
Its all still poetry to me
Personal and Confessional
Made up and Mythological
Literal or metaphorically.
Verse or Prose
Sung or spoken
Its all still poetry to me
Haiku or sonnet
Tanka or villanelle
Romance or philosophy.
Epic or mundane
Serious or not
Its all still poetry to me.
The sun outside is shining;
I feel a chill in the air,
The Fates themselves I hear crying,
Drowning in the howls of despair.
Shadows fall over Eden
The future turns black as ice,
Flaming swords and poor choices
Bar the path back to paradise
Threads look so long at the beginning;
Tragically cut short when it ends.
Life is a shelf of books we write ourselves
On either end oblivion is its bookends.
Image: Adam et Eve chassés du Paradis (aka Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise) by Marc Chagall, 1961; France
Of unspeakable things,
Traveling the continent
In the company of uncrowned kings.
Searching for clues
In archaic fragmented rhymes
To unlock the puzzle
Of ancient unsolved crimes
Nowhere we won’t travel
Once we’ve finally set forth:
Snowy mountain passes;
Dwarven mines in the cradle of Jörð.
From the deepest dark dungeon
To sanctuaries on the roof of the world
Facing opposing demon armies
With banners proudly unfurled.
A shadow falls from the east,
From where a cold wind blew
The outcome long since written,
As the weird well sisters knew.
Across nine kingdoms
A lone horn does blow
The end begins here and now
Finally facing the beloved foe.
Though this day is our last
Courage never once fails,
Fight the fight that must be fought
Leaving others to tell the tales.
Jörð is pronounced “Yorth”