Daily Archives: March 18, 2010

What Old Man Kenny Told Me

“You know,
every line on my face
is a dry riverbed of hate.

I hated myself,
others, life and death,
money, problems, solutions.

I lifted my eyes unto the Whatchamacallit
and asked for it all to be taken away
and nothing changed.  So I hated

the Great Answerer for not
answering me.  There were moments
where that hatred

took me over, and the displeasure
of the Lord washed down my cheeks
and washed me out.  Now, I live

like a hobo in the landscape
I have despised, trying to drag
a living from it that doesn’t hurt,

and I am lost, the arroyos
of my skin are dry and lead back
to the heights that have been arid

for many years, and I wish I knew
how to love, how to fill and flood them
until my whole face seemed as smooth

as the surface of a lake, still and calm
in the light of day, reflecting back
love I never allowed myself.”

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Our Colorful Characters: A Bedtime Story

Once upon a time
there was a man who sat all day
on the corner of Belmont Street
and the crosstown highway.  He
was named Nathan and had no legs.

People used to smile at Nathan
as they made the turn from the exit ramp
by his corner and he waved at every car.
Then, after a while,
he wasn’t there. 

Once upon a time
there was a man named the Whistler
who walked all around town
and into the surrounding suburbs.
When you drove by him and honked

he’d whistle back, the loudest whistle
anyone had ever heard, and never
the same whistle twice.  Never stuck his hands
in his mouth either, never broke stride,
and then he vanished.

Once upon a time
there was a very old woman in Main South
who always dressed in white and always wore
thick white makeup on her face.
Everyone thought she was a hooker

but she used to minister to the working girls
instead, giving them food and money
when they needed it, first aid when they
needed it as they seemed to so often,
and then she disappeared.

Once upon a time
we used to know all our vagabonds.
We figured they had homes somewhere
and came out to keep the city colorful.
Now we see so many

it’s harder to keep track of them.
They wear signs that say “Homeless Vet”
or “God Bless You,” but we don’t know their stories
or rather we don’t make them up
the way we used to make up stories

about Nathan and The Whistler
and the White Lady, stories
we assumed had a beginning
that started with “Once upon a time,”
included the phrase

“there but for the grace of God,”
and we didn’t bother to create much more
background or development
for any of them, preferring to simply say,
“and they lived happily ever after.”

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Smart Old World

Smart old world
we have here, that invented
obsolesence, aging,
erosion, and death
to keep itself from getting bored.

Selfish old world
that came up with
mitosis and meiosis,
cell division and birth,
just to shake things up.

Strange old world
that melds the two things
regularly, so that one leads
into the other.  Think of
the mantis with his missing head

in the mouth of his mate
as she begins to gestate,
or your neighbor’s sorrow
as he laughs at the antics of the child
whose mother, his wife, died to produce.

Stoic world,
coated in a thin skim of our poison,
is biding its time.  You think
a world like this won’t survive us?
It barely notices us, pal.

When this world’s had its fill
of us it’ll throw us off like a
past season coat.  It will rub
minerals together and try something
new.  We’re just toys, not even pets,

but an enzyme inside us tells us otherwise,
screams, “I’m special! I’m here!” Well,
trickster world gave us that too.  We make do
acting like the world is in us and
we’re indispensable. Can you hear the laughter?

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