Posts Tagged ‘ Waits ’

Three Poems

The dream to come up with original content for this blog continues.

I swear.

It’s just hard to find the motivation to do so. It seems like most of my essays head over to Drunken Monkeys. That’s certainly not a bad thing.

Doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to come up with something anyway.

I can’t complain though. I’m not that negative. I’ve been traveling more, and through that, and the long line of weirdoes I’ve met along the way, I’ve actually been eager to write lately. My resolve to sell that second novel is back in fighting shape, and I’m even starting to think of how to expand a novella I wrote a while back into a third novel.

The last couple of weeks have been particularly fruitful. It’s been a long, long while since I felt the drunkenness that comes with having more images and ideas than I know what to do with (Old Crow helps with that drunkenness, but it also kills the whole spiritual high thing I was going for a moment ago). I’ve tried to nail down a few in two of the poems I’m tossing into this post, but I know that it’s going to be the kind of thing where I lose twenty such visuals for every couple I manage to lock away.

That’s okay, and the reason why that’s okay is because it’s not going to be the last time I get to knock around a small piece of the world like this.

**********
Hot, Moonless Nights Abroad
By Gabriel Ricard

Abel came back to life on a Tuesday morning,
but Cain had already been back for years,
and everyone had always liked him more anyway.

He wrote great poetry about dysfunction,
and could ride a bicycle down any hill in San Francisco
with his eyes closed, arms out and heart way wide open.

When you risk your life like that,
every day is the last day of summer,
and when it’s gone,
when your nerve leaves you with the bill
you’re never going to get it back.

What the hell was Cain to do?
He moved to New Albany,
gained two hundred pounds
and got a job at the post office.

It was never his plan to come back and cause trouble,
or tell anyone anything they weren’t going to believe anyway.

He turned bitter in a hurry. He became quiet about it, too.
That kind of thing can happen to anybody
with unrealistic expectations of what’s waiting for them at home.

What really killed him,
and this weirdo knew a lot about dying,
was how quickly you could get bored
with a town of less than ten thousand.

Right, right, right,
yeah, yeah, yeah,
fine.

The Kindergarten teacher was a burlesque dancer
with a missing leg. You almost always wound up
with either a dead body or a bag of phony diamonds
when you bought a used car. The local chemical engineer
wore his wife’s clothes, and stopped people
from committing crimes they hadn’t even thought of yet.

One man had seen “True Grit” so many times
that he could look at it fourteen different ways.

Some of those involved pretty far-out stretches of the imagination.

Some writer also just happened to be born there
as he was making his way to the little-known town
of Gravedigger in Hollywood, California.

Hapless, foolish, bloated, lonely Abel
came to regret the whole drunken notion
of returning to the land of living.

He drank beer like Mary drank secrets.
He waited for fights with people
who tried to use his apartment complex’s dumpster
but didn’t actually live there.

When he finally decided that he would die
if he didn’t leave and soon,
he checked with some of his friends from the old days.

No one recognized him,
not even his voice,
so they just assumed he was a really,
really confident liar.

That just made things even worse.

**********
Until The Day of My Tenth Life
By Gabriel Ricard

The sandwich shop is called Hell’s Kitchen.
I can guess,
and I’d probably be right,
that the gentleman in camouflage
and a shirt that used to be white
has been sitting out front a long time.

If he’s blind,
if he hasn’t got a friend in this blue and red world,
and if he’s been waiting for the leaves to change,
then my heart is obliged to go out to him.

If he’s just waiting for a sandwich and a winning horse,
then I wish him the best with that, too.

Even though my dearest comrades and saviors
started out as strangers I don’t ask him for his life story.
I’ve got places I don’t want to be. Places I don’t need to be.

My heart is a Hollywood Video next to a Civil War cemetery.
Or at the very least it’s catching some sun in the hands
of a young lady. She ran away from the circus
to rest her weary eyes
in the cool hush of an unforgiving room.

I will love her until the day my tenth life is up for auction.
Love her until the ninth one feels shiny and new to the touch.
Hold her until everything catches up to me.
Because a quick cut can hear me trying to breathe properly for miles.

Savages will be waiting for me in the future,
and I know they will be savages when the future becomes defunct,
and I have a whole new set of rules,
that will not reveal themselves to me
until long after the ambulance forgets to pick me up.

You pay a lot of people,
leave a lot of heirlooms on a lot of doorsteps,
I guess, I think, I suppose,
if you want to be as happy as the person
you’re cheering up in spite of your downtown health.

I didn’t ask the man outside Hell’s Kitchen for his story.
He didn’t ask me for mine.

We didn’t even exchange a nod,
but if we had made eye contact
I think we would have.

It’s not about making a lifelong connection.
It’s about finding people you know,
and I mean know,
you’re going to see standing nearby
when your private worlds simultaneously collapse.

I’m amazed at how many of us
are members in good standing of that philosophy.

**********
Everybody’s A Drug Addict
By Gabriel Ricard

It took twenty-four years to reach out
and press my palms against the building.

There was no story there.
The memories of the brave and cynical
did not rush from the cracks to greet my tired blood.

And I waited, too. Believe me.

I might as well have been hanging around
for some easy money and one of those cowboys
who sings, but probably shouldn’t.

It wasn’t a disaster though. I didn’t cry,
or miss the bus at 35th and 5th on purpose.

I just reached out to shake hands
with those who live in the details of the shadows,
and are damn near stalking me at times.

I reached out whenever I felt the presence
of something very lost and very human
in the winds of summer. The kind of breeze
that digs deep before you can even wonder
why you’re suddenly so cold.

My youth sings on in a less-than-stellar
part of the world, and I wish all the time
that it would just shut up, go to sleep
and wake up in what I am working to make
a much more forgiving past.

This is just the kind of thing
I think about when there are more streets
around me than I know what to do with.

Bad intentions to my left.
Sobbing empires of dark clouds on up ahead.
Physical consequences of anxiety to my right.
Broken hearts and cheated livers right behind me.

What’s a young man who doesn’t actually feel young to do?
Do I play dress-up, change my name
and act that people might consider a little classier?

Do I prove that I’m smarter than at least ninety-percent
of the car crashes I’ve limped away from?

Do I learn how to at least make sense to myself?

I can’t keep visiting these old buildings,
and assuming the spark has been there
waiting for me all along.

It’s better that I act as though
I ran out of years to look forward to years ago.

Especially since it might be true,
and that one day love and travel
just won’t be enough.

Right now
I’m content
to be so good at pretending I think otherwise
that you might mistake it for arrogance.

Could be.
Could be that I’m just out of coffee.

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Two Poems

The general consensus seems to be that people are digging the poetry and fiction a hell of a lot more than the bloated movies reviews, so I’m going to play to my few strengths, and go with that.

I’m determined to finish that movie challenge though, and hope to have something new for that tomorrow. It won’t be easy, but I’m sure we’ll live with it as best we can.

**********
The Randy Savage Jailbait Blues
By Gabriel Ricard

And after they’re gone
there’ll be no one left to be disappointed in me.

I’d like to be twenty miles away
from the pen pal who recognizes me
in the middle of Singapore’s London district
when it goes down. That’s just a Christmas dream
on the twenty-eighth of May,
but I’ve yet to be shamed for being an ambitious dreamer,
so I’m just going to keep on keepin’ on,
in spite of failing Canadian charm school.

I can’t remember if I really was the first guy
to open a marriage request with “Disaster strikes the peculiar”,
or if I stole it from the journal of a comedian friend.
who never got out of Shockabttom,
without paying his weight in January 3rd cigars.

Can’t tell me it’s not a fantastic thing to remark
to the poor preteen foster parent,
who has to double as your parole officer.

My memory is a bully from the Monday Night Raw days,
and it probably would have served me well
to keep flinching through my teenage years.

I probably should have read more books, too,
but it’s a little late to start
when my favorite movies are lined up for life,
at the theater
just past the preschool
that would have turned away the likes of me
at the hallway.

It was a cute way to impress the people,
who turned out to see a three-year-old try to read Pet Cemetary.

It just hasn’t done a whole lot for me lately.

You’d think someone who needs to be carried up the stairs
so often would be protective of the things
that occasionally get him some attention
from the no-nonsense dealer room girls.

You’d think I’d be able to live on the hood of a glass airplane.
to hear me run my kiss-stealin’, wheelin’-dealin’ mouth.

I won’t say you should be ashamed of such ideas,
but I’m also not going to pay for dinner
unless the wolf can pick the lock at our steel front door.

A one-legged song and dance may have to see us through.

**********
The Last Laurel and Hardy Movie
By Gabriel Ricard

I’ve got three pennies to rub together,
so I’m going to throw two away,
and start all over again with just the one,
because it sounds good on paper.

That’s what we’re settling for
these days, okay? The white boys in Raleigh,
North Carolina are getting drunk
at twelve o’clock in the afternoon,
and acting out their college basketball fantasies
with a couple of frozen turkeys.

Far be it for me to judge.
I’ve been known to sweat blood,
by the time I walk across the room,
to tell her that her eyes could turn a poor young man’s heart
into orange construction paper.

I once paid for the damage I had created around me
with a cheque on what was left of the solitary bedroom wall.

The public library and I
have very different ideas
of what those reading tables are for.

You were a gal Friday of wild abandon.
I can’t believe anything bad
ever came out of all those parked cars
we borrowed to get away from the month of June
trying to get rich off the standard cruel winter
in New York City.

October was never up to any damn good either.
I can’t trust a month that sells me out,
every time someone I love moves to San Francisco,
and doesn’t want me any closer than Edgewater, Maryland.

You never really understood what I meant by that,
but you’re a saint double-crossing the music
that’s supposed to carry me home,
and no one will ever make me laugh like you do.

I’m hopeless.
Absolutely hopeless.

I owe you more fragile coffee cups
and counterfeit twenties
than I’ll ever be able to steal
from my cousins-by-marriage,
at one of our many,
unfortunate rescue shelter family reunions.

I’ve been weird, talkative and obnoxious
to a room full of empty  funeral suits.

You’ve managed to live with that,
keep your wits above and beyond our attention
to the details of our unhealthy social graces,
and even care enough to tell me to watch out
for beautiful girls who travel by Greyhound.

You might even be able to accept me
when it gets to the point where nothing surprises you anymore.

I’ve been waiting on that kind of thing
for years, you know.

Old Men Go Crazy

When I got back from the city on Monday morning
I went to bed and told the box turtle
in the bathroom to hold my calls until Tuesday.

I went to bed
and hoped for the best.

An hour later,
and I’m riding with a friend who spit lit cigarettes
at red lights and swore he’d kill the judge at his court hearing.
Unless the assault charges from his son’s fifth birthday party
were dropped with extreme prejudice.

You can only imagine
how things turned out.

Two hours after the helicopters
left the scene of the crime,
I was trying to believe that the June bride
sitting across from me at The Waffle House
really did want to leave her husband for me.

Let’s remember she looks at life as being
a lot like some of the darker Zevon tunes.

Let’s also keep in mind that she came back
from the dead last Christmas, and that she clearly suffers
from Multiple Personality Disorder.

I don’t want to be presumptuous about her sincerity,
but I think it was smart to just sit there,
look sad, drink four liters of coffee
and squeeze the waitress’ hand when she brought the cheque.

The bride and I parted on good terms,
and by the end of the afternoon
I was auditioning for a play at gunpoint.

I did that while sending furious text messages
to a homeless guy who claimed to know
my whole future and just wouldn’t leave me
alone about it.

Palm readers don’t even bother
with human interaction anymore. It’s insane.

I didn’t get the part,
and I had to spend most of my evening
watching amateur doctors pass out
at the sight of the four bullet wounds in my left leg,

There was a riot just beyond the cold operating room,
but I couldn’t tell you anything about it. I just walked through
the wreckage, gave the guy at the grand piano a five-spot
and tried to make my way back home.

I almost made it.
I almost hit the pillow on my bed
from as far away as the long steps up to the front door.

That’s when I got a phone call
that had me spending the rest of the week
wandering the Mexican bars in Chinatown.
Keeping the crowd around me entertained
and pretending I had never fallen in love the hard way.

I’m a fool, you know.
I was still optimistic about getting some sleep
when I finally made it home the following Sunday morning.

My box turtle knew the score though.
She wouldn’t even look up from her dried-out lettuce.