I diddle away here
when maybe I should be
washing the dishes
vacuuming the floor
going for a walk in the false spring
fighting for a cause
helping the poor
letting God see i’m paying my debt
even though he knows it’s just appeasement
somewhere in the Bible there’s a story
about a rich man who gave away
much of his fortune
for he had heard that rich men have
as much of a chance of getting to Heaven
as a camel has of passing through the eye of a needle
and then there was a poor man
who lent his last penny to help someone
and we know which one God smiled upon
so this diddling, this “writing” if you will
is, most times, all that emanates from me
even now, I feel the push
to go and seek, go and do
Let me up, let me up
and I will.
we were freshly married
maybe only weeks or months
you were doing dishes
but knew I was in the kitchen
I came up behind you
encircled your waist
kissed the skin just below your ear
you screamed, seemingly in fear
and shrunk away, dropped a plate
I felt stabbed, perplexed
asked what was the matter
you said nothing I just don’t like that
in our decades
if I asked about your past
you answered vaguely
and changed the subject
so I did not press
it is forty years now
you have never seen me stumbling drunk
but when I take a drink
even one beer
under controlled conditions
you ask me why I need to do that
so I think
in the decades before we met
too painful for you
buried very deeply
our hearts cannot touch it
a sore that will never heal
I sit on the edge of the bed
pull on the socks, jeans, suspenders, shirt
while the dumb animal lays out flat on the covers
after it’s followed me from the breakfast table
to the shower to the bedroom
it’s my number one fan, you know
cocks its head slightly
to match my vision’s angle
then makes those bedroom eyes
in the purring, in the flexing of those grey mittens
such serenity, peacefulness, feline fulfilment
I have the foolish thought
I would like to change places with you
just for a day
I want to love like you
and feel love, like you
except we two
you do not understand
do you even want to?
when you look at me
with derision in your glance
and say get off that shit
snap out of it
what is wrong with you
and I snap, but not out of it
and say thank you for your support
now fuck off
a terrible terrible thing to say
then I go to bed
and have black dreams
and what is worse I am not sorry
we do not talk for days
I tell you I am cold turkey now
by way of a half assed apology or excuse
your look says are you looking for sympathy?
I tell you I have been clean for two months now
struggling to be strong
but some nights I need a little help
you find my white paper bag
with the drugstore sleep aids in it
and say I thought you were off that shit
and I say I am, this is only kids stuff
and I don’t take it every night
you say maybe if you didn’t take that damn tablet to bed
and turn off your light at a reasonable hour
it might help eh?
I have seen a therapist
they say maybe you should too
get educated a little?
you say you don’t need any help
joy has been gone too long too long
this circle is vicious
in February’s frozen spring
i came across a curious thing
a solitary sapling in the sun
it looked as if ’twere shivering
with papered leaves a-quivering
and the wind imparted voices to each one
i thought its spindly arms were bare
until i heard the chattering there
and spied the little curlicues of brown
and thought so many made it through
the winter’s blast, the icy blue
and held on fast, to make their chittering sound
bought with the coin of weakness
is losin’ its grip on little old me
ah, I can feel it
tentacle by tentacle
prong by prong
sinew by snapping sinew
is it gonna go quietly?
not a chance.
it bellows and hollers in my dreams.
but I analyze those cries, and surprise!
it is only the impotent rage of defeat.
each day now
I poke a little further
out of the eggshell
better take that shower this morning, huh?
people are gonna see you today.
careful, don’t move too quickly in there
you’ll make your old head spin
and after all, those are glass doors.
hey, how come that shave didn’t hurt this morning
as it did yesterday?
same blade, same hot water, same shavin’ cream
but, boy, yesterday, you were rippin’ those whiskers out one by one.
watch that shaky hand, eh?
we don’t want no blood
didn’t that cuppa coffee taste spiritually fine this morning?
you forgot to take those stomach pills first
but you lived through it, haha.
were those real birds you heard singing this morning?
spring in February?
looks like you’re gonna see another one, Joe.
but, like those foolish crocuses that are poking their heads up
be careful what you wish for
ol’ man winter just might beat you down yet
where’d you get that burst of energy this morning?
can’t be that coffeefee , you make it same every day
hey, do you think, do you think we could….
strap on that Fitbit and go for a stroll?
maybe take your putter with you
so you can level that playing field
between you and those loose dogs
nah, let’s do the laundry instead.
it’s pretty cold out there.
make sure you look down at your toes
before you start down the stairs.
it’s not automatic anymore, is it?
geez, that sun is shining, Joe
come on, put on those long johns,
lace up those oxfords.
why do they make the damn laces so long?
forget your troubles, come on be happy
at least you haven’t graduated to Velcro yet.