The Last Word

I’ve gone and squeezed it dead, I more than fear.
That’s why I sit in my spot and just stare.
Where once images and feelings ran clear,
now only dust. And what’s worse, I don’t care.

I started doing it with you in mind,
your love being all that I ever wished.
I knew this harsh mistress could be unkind,
now I’ve killed her and that fire’s extinguished.

I push and dig, bring up naught but a moan,
the once-blazing fire within me gone cold.
Doggerel in its ash I trace here alone,
like a bell I ring, but not heard, so untolled.

I thought, perhaps, my gift would abide,
a soul-filling thing I’d do ’til I went.
But it seems it’s passed before I died
and all I’ve left is this goodbye unsent.

Like a friend that’s gone, I might grieve this loss.
I know I’ll grieve no longer seeing you.
Maybe this time spent without is just a pause,
my “goodbye,” au revoir ‘stead of adieu.

Advertisements

Recapturing His Muse to Let Loose His Wolf

I’d like to tell you a story,
but, nowadays, the stories
just won’t come.
I’ve tried all the old instigators,
but none of those break the spell
rendering me dumb.

So let’s try making something happen
as I’ve had to for so many,
many weeks.
A poem punctuated with rhyming words
at least rolls the ball downhill,
though not up any peaks.

There’s this guy I know, perhaps so do you,
whose life feels empty when he can’t
tell a story.
He’s told all kinds, from weepy to creepy
even gory, though none yet
a “Finding Dory.”

He thought a muse could bring him
the old inspiration, grist for
his creative mill.
But, of course, she was an illusion,
even to herself, now a wraith
of substance nil.

And so one day he reaches into that ether,
grasping at straws
not really there.
For five hundred more words,
or even for two, so long as they’re
not more hot air.

“I’ll tell you what,” he said to
the ghost of she who felt she was
his Keats’s Fanny Brawne.
“Just say a phrase, and in misery
I’ll phrase, a story sad as
Yeats’s with Made Gonne.”

So now he’s off to string thoughts
of some kind, in a story,
kind of together.
Of course this story’s about me,
now feeling free, loosing my prosaic wolf
from its tether.

Making a Joyful Noizzzzz

I’m trying to write something happier
something outside of the same old dark stuff.
Problem: I don’t wish to sound sappier,
but convey more than a dog barking “Ruff.”

I said, “Joe, what would make you feel better?”
But the answer didn’t make itself clear.
I knew maybe when my whistle’s wetter…
So I went to the kitchen for a beer.

Sustained, I sat to make happy happen,
but just beer alone can bring on a yawn.
The next thing you know this poet’s nappin’,
rhyming “yawn” with the sound of wood sawin’.

So my hope to write you a poem of joy
lies delayed beneath your sleeping old boy.

I’m trying’ to fake it ’til I make it. Make it out of this long running depressed state. So in a stab at my own form of cognitive behavioral therapy, I figured maybe if I could express some joy in a poem, I might catch that wave out of this eddy of woe. Let’s just say I feel a little more near its perimeter. Hope I made you grin a little. THAT makes me feel better.

Before It’s Too Late

Father, mother, and brother Bill,
first love, some others, none named Jill,
upon my life’s way walk unfulfilled,
following me over another hill.

Old friend, best friend, only one,
I said “See ya, I gotta run.”
Next call I got was from his son,
so now my list of friends is none.

In every case, including romance,
we parted in some macabre danse.
When I look back it is askance.
You see, I never got that chance.

What chance you say? I thought you’d know,
at least by now in my tale of woe.
But in stringing rhymes I ain’t no Poe,
just a sad old poet name of Joe.

All these regrets have made me cry.
It’s too late, see, after they die.
But if you should go first, or I,
let me at least wish YOU goodbye.

Sorry, I threw some slant rhymes and extra beats here and there into this piece. But this poem came to me because recently I’ve had a closer brush with my own mortality than I cared to brush. It’s a small part of my relative absence (compared to the Prolific Joe you know) from this space for the past several months. I never got the chance to wish these people I loved goodbye before we parted, one way or another. Just my youngest brother. So I decided to get ahead of the possibilities, just in case one of us trips on a rainbow, so to speak. 

Enjoy Every Sandwich

I can’t tell you what to do with your days.
Even I, myself, no longer listen
to my own words, philosophical ways.
I see now something’s always been missin’.

So feel free to ignore what I say now,
though you have never listened to me much,
but here’s what I’ve learned, and don’t ask me how,
it’s where I earned these scars…here, have a touch.

That warmth made me happy but it won’t last,
because true joys are but such fleeting things.
Cherish while you can, ‘cause life’s smiles go fast,
those too-brief moments that give your heart wings.

Warren Zevon advised before he died,
“Enjoy ev’ry sandwich.” Boy, wish I tried.

If I Could Feel, This Is How It Feels

Am I blind, since I can’t see you these days?
Not even in my mind’s eye can I find you.
Where once there was at least a blurry haze,
not a shadow’s left, which your outline drew.

Am I deaf, since I do not hear your voice
even in dreams where once we laughed and talked?
In my sightless world, there’s nary a noise
that I might find you by the steps you’ve walked.

I’m cold-fact sure I’ve lost my sense of touch,
when out I reach to once more feel your skin.
With no sight, nor hearing, that leaves not much
with which I might find you and that’s a sin.

So now I exist in this empty shell;
without you’s not life, just a living hell.

I was asked not too long ago to write something about deep loss, since it might as well be my métier. And, to tell you the truth, the losses I’ve experienced in the last year have stopped up the drip-drop of inspiration I’ve been able to wring out of the dry seabed of my imagination. But today I give you this, another rhyming sonnet, something I never really liked to do. But just like how we never can tell who we’ll love and who we’ll lose, sometimes something comes along to cut you and some other kind of drip-drop hits the page.

…And Nothing But the Truth

I imagine you can learn it,
though it could be instinct as well,
to just not say anything when
it’s truth you don’t wish to tell.
Just keep shut your mouth
and adopt an innocent mien,
and it’ll all blow over,
your part never actually seen.
See? That was easy,
little me or you might surmise,
and then comes the day a little white one
escapes your lips, quelle surprise.
And if you succeed to
escape Mom and Dad’s wrath,
it isn’t long or too difficult
to follow that path
along the road to where truth, verity
and honesty by wayside lay dying,
because you’ve found you can get more
with mendacity, fabrication, you know…lying.
And now it seems falsehood has
become humanity’s norm,
where from your house to White House
untruths fall like a hailstorm.
But who am I to judge, since
by definition, I lie for a living,
a teller of tales, a spinner of yarns
all these stories I’m always giving.
So if Diogenes, in the present day
searched for honesty from sea to sea,
and his lamp was filched, most of us would
shake their heads, miming “Wasn’t me.”
And now we’ve reached the end of this
poem you’ve read no doubt sitting,
and please know I’ll never lie
in my heartfelt words to you…


… Nah, I’m just kidding.

Seriously, lying has never been so easy, easily believed, easily debunked and, unfortunately, easily ignored.  Perhaps we should be like Odysseus’ crew, wadding up our ears lest we are carried away by the Sirens blasting from all the media we consume. And all the lies we tell one another.