Archive for ‘Poems of regret and Resentment’

March 16, 2021

Pilgrimage


Snow falls outside the hotel window,
floating carelessly through the air…
and I don’t care.
The town spreads out below me:
A sprawling red brick dream,
with white capped peaks beyond.
But I don’t respond.

Crushing boredom, grueling emptiness,
purifying alienation:
This is exactly what I came here for.
There is nothing more.

The snow brings silence with it,
sinking into the frozen darkness of a Sunday night.
On these tired, sour, leaden streets,
the bitter desolation is too much to take
for very long.  I return to my station:
stretched out on a bed,
gazing at a distant mountain range
or staring at a faucet in a trance.
It’s not refreshing, it doesn’t seem strange
and seductive, as it appeared in advance.

Far from the City of Refuge,
with no practical scheme,
constantly ruing the latest version
of what might have been; emptying myself
into the emptiness, negotiating the rush,
as a pick-up truck plows through the slush;
and I resign myself to another night, another day,
serving out a sentence.
I told myself I’d stay.

Outsiders here are quickly identified:
they’re clean-shaven.
I observe the bartender’s warmth
with other customers.
Surrounded by laughter,
I watch the bubbles in my beer,
shooting from the bottom of the glass
to a rapidly nearing surface, evenly spaced,
like asteroids in a primitive video game,
and leave unthanked.

On the street a creature is drawn to me:
a vicious black dog, grudgingly restrained
by an unapologetic owner.
These excursions strike me now,
as they always strike me at this point,
as being selfish and pointless.
What am I doing here?
When will I learn?
Despite all the goodwill I brought with me,
the place gave me nothing in return.

March 28, 2019

Empty Pages

One might think by now
that the complete lack of payback
would have discouraged me.
But it hasn’t.
A jaded urgency
is my obsolete currency.
While doing nothing, I bask
in the glory of creation.
And lost to myself,
I find myself again,
setting up a screen
upon which reality scratches
in vain. To stem the tide
of pettiness, of complaint
so ingrained.

July 21, 2016

Life’s Journey

four_0003

I seemed to have always been the same age.
Then I looked in the mirror and saw a tired
and devious old man gazing warily back at me.

An old man, alone in a room, masturbating over a memory,
fantasizing about women who have forgotten about me,
and brooding over deliberately missed opportunities.

A shadow of my former shadow
slowly becoming invisible, turning gray.
Unfortunately, nobody noticed
that I never went away.

May 28, 2016

The Solution

Dried Up

I recognize the ideal,
of what I’m ideally working towards,
but I’m incapable of realizing it.
So why not satisfy myself
with what I imagine
I’m capable of doing
rather than actually doing it?
That seems like a reasonable solution.

But isn’t that what I’ve been doing all along:
basking instead of striving;
recognizing what I’m capable of
and settling for less?
Which is actually a long process
of resigning oneself to failure:
basking in the glory of potential
and potential glory,
until potential is dead.

March 23, 2016

Golden Waters

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Instead of doing my own work,
I took a long hard look
at somebody else’s work,
in the hope of being pleasantly relieved
by how bad it was.
But, much as I tried to deny it,
it was undeniably good.
And it pours out of him
like a gusher from a golden fountain
that never stops flowing.
Compared to this strained trickle
from a blocked and rusty faucet.
I take consolation
in how much it has cost me,
as if that might somehow redeem it.
Which, of course, it doesn’t.
But I don’t have much else
to take consolation in.

April 18, 2015

LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS

Imagining

I can feel time passing me by,
speeding up as I slow down,
creating the kind of deceptive, reflexive glory
that happens when the speed of the past
overtakes the slowed down present.

I was riding into the promise
of a life without limits,
infinitely rich with possibilities,
when the future suddenly turned into the past.
And looking back upon it,
it wasn’t hugely satisfying.

March 12, 2015

Imperfect Day

Unseizable

Outside, a sparrow sits on the telegraph wire,
a stray dog limps across the sidewalk.
And that is the extent of nature in these parts.
Silence drills through me, birdsong flickers in the air,
overlaid by the constant drone of traffic and tinnitus.
Urgency fades into futility, and once again I find myself
on the verge of giving up before I have even begun.
If I could see myself sitting here –
a lazy perfectionist sinking into the unseizable day –
barely engaged in the pretense of activity,
I don’t know whether I’d laugh or cry…
or remain numb.

November 18, 2014

Stone the Lonely

Stone_NEW

I can go from biting loneliness
to social claustrophobia – and back –
in ten seconds flat.
Terrorized by polite conversation,
I don’t have much energy,
and I don’t have much appetite for other people’s energy.
Groaning inwardly, aching for silence, I can feel
my precious hours receding into slowly measured death;
devoured by people who ignore me. I could bite
the hand that feeds, till it bleeds,
but it isn’t very nourishing,
and it would be spat back.

October 20, 2014

A Richer Victory

Bitterness

Broke, bitter and alone.
What more could I possibly ask for?
I have failed, at last,
beyond my wildest expectations.
I don’t understand
why I’m still not satisfied.

October 13, 2014

Four by Two

I am honored to be included in the autumn edition
of Klipschutz’s exquisitely wrought Four-by-Two series.
It can be found (and ordered) here: http://www.fourbytwo.org/
fourbytwocover3

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