July 21, 2016
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
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.
May 2, 2016
I waited a long time
to become a failure.
It took longer than I expected.
Was it worth the wait?
It was all in the anticipation.
But it was nice to have something
to look forward to.
March 30, 2016
If the amount of time I ‘put in’ were commensurate with actual finished product, I would have amassed a substantial body of work by now, several groaning shelves worth, if not of a Jamesian or Dostoevskian amplitude, then at least in the Flaubertian range. Although, admittedly, most of the time that was supposed to be spent immersed in disciplined endeavor has been lost in a haze of abstraction. All these thoughts and memories – all these notes – will perish with me, and maybe that’s for the best. Why save them from inevitable oblivion? If only to bespeak the gulf between what one imagines one is capable of and what one actually is capable of, and the folly of continuing to work on something when one knows in advance that it is a failure. Who am I kidding? The only person I’m kidding is myself. Nobody else is invested enough to be in on the joke.
March 23, 2016
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.
July 13, 2015
From now on I’m going to be a shadow
of my former shadow:
Living in the present, negligibly,
and regretting the past, sweepingly.
As for the future, I’m not sure if I have one.
But I’ve been saying that for a long time,
and I’m still here, even if I am
ten years behind my time.
Make that fifteen.
April 18, 2015
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 6, 2015
Shakespeare, Proust, Kafka, Camus, Orwell, Gissing: What do each of these distinguished authors have in common? They all produced a lot of great work, but surely their most important unifying quality is that they were all younger than me when they died. I have outlived Keats by a quarter of a century: that’s a morbidly sobering thought. But let’s leave poets out of this. In the time it took Balzac to write 91 novels, covering every aspect of the human condition in its myriad complexity, I have produced two very slender volumes of poetry, addressing a rather more limited sphere of activity… or rather inactivity.
October 20, 2014
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.
November 8, 2013
The other lives I might have led
all now might as well be
dead. Survived by no one.
Barren, without issue of any sort:
this withered bud, failed
in art and love. With no time left
to change my course. But time enough
for infinite remorse.