I stumble drunkenly down the street without any idea as to where I may be, though I have narrowed it down to somewhere between 85th Avenue and Jonesboro, Arkansas. I am in desperate need of a restroom and am seriously contemplating whether or not I should relieve myself on the lamp post just ahead - when I am drunk I always over think things. The lamp post turns out to be a middle aged woman waiting for the bus. Luckily for her, the sensation passes momentarily as I walk by.
By chance I come across my friend Ralph Thompson’s house. I knock on the door and cry violently until he answers. I am immediately led to the washroom. I can tell he is upset. I have shown up drunk on his doorstep before. After a brief snooze in his toilet bowl, I emerge from the washroom to apologize. However when I see my dear friend Ralph standing over me irate, I break down. I confess to him my love for fine upholstery, my failing marriage and how I suspect my wife will leave me for a man with larger earlobes. Sobbing into his polyester couch, I come to a grand realization.
This is not Ralph’s house. I don’t have a friend named Ralph. I have mistakenly wandered into a Lawyer’s office at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The lawyer, thinking I was interested in his services, tells me that he has begun the divorce papers.
Do I pay the man off for the two hours of his time? or do I just go ahead with the divorce? Which is better? polyester or leather? I begin to urinate as I weigh my options.
I would rip the stones from my eye sockets,
And skip them in the rivers of yours.
I would wean myself off of cigarettes,
So my words would not taste so poisonous.
And I would turn away every glass of wine,
Just to prove that you alone make my cheeks flush.
But I do not love you.
You too stare at me with stones.
And taste like nicotine.
And have had too much to drink.
Today I stood at the end of my street
And I watched the trees.
I noticed how they formed a canopy,
Shading the pavement where I stood.
And I thought:
How selfish of them
To not share the sun,
But grow tall and strong
As if they were trying to touch it.
How selfish of them,
To reach deep into the earth
Stretching their legs for miles
And drinking its milk.
How selfish of them,
To play in the wind and rain
Holding no fear of any kind.
And I thought:
How selfish of me,
Wanting to tear the noblest of all living things
To the ground.
When I was a child, I would find pinecones
And bury them in our backyard.
And before I went to bed I would pray for rain.
The next morning I would rush outside -
Expecting a forest to have grown as I slept -
Finding only the holes I had dug the day before.
When my mother found them,
She dug her fingernails into my wrists, and scolded me.
But she too was young and naive.
Nothing grows overnight.
I was sweating bullets
And you were the innocent bystander
Who took my words to heart.
He is the man on the moon.
And you have moved your bed out of your apartment
And left it on a hill, hoping to be closer to him.
You stay awake at night, trying to consume his light;
But he is a liar,
And whatever light he displays is borrowed,
Like the time that you spend together.
It belongs to the sun
And so do you.
She was strong and determined
He was brittle and weak
But she moved like a dancer
Who was light on her feet
He knew he could lift her
With a song from the heart
Closed his eyes and he sang
Took that shot in the dark
With a solemn verse
He put her children to sleep
Those three fatherless girls
She was determined to keep
Named ‘em after the months
She spent drowning in booze
Goodnight April, ‘night May,
And Goodnight June
It’s been two years since I’ve seen her.
But as the train pulls into the University station,
Chance brings her into my car.
Her eyes pass over the faces that occupy it,
For that moment I am frozen.
I have cut my hair, grown out my beard.
She doesn’t recognize me.
She stares blankly out the window just beyond me.
Her body shakes as the train rips violently down the track.
It reminds me how I too used to make her shake.
I can’t help but smile.
She recognizes me,
That damn perverted smile.
She calls out my name,
In perfect compliment to the image running through my mind.
I have no response
This is my stop.
I read the story of a woman, who gave birth to a stillborn child:
When she was discharged from the hospital, she never made it to her car.
She collapsed in the parking lot,
And wept until her knees and palms were bloodied.
The pavement could not have known how to be gentle;
Nevertheless it tried, best it could, to comfort her.
On the crimson concrete, amongst the swelling of her eyes,
She found a small stone.
She held it with her fingers and studied it - stained red,
And wiped it clean.
It seemed as though her grief had subsided.
For a year, she carried that stone,
And held it so tightly that the wounds from that day were unable to heal.
When the year had passed, she found a slightly bigger stone,
And cared for it, until the ridges of her fingers were smooth.
She would tear apart the house if, for a moment, she thought that it was lost.
But it never was.
With the passing of every year, she found a larger stone.
And every one weighed more heavily upon her,
Like a mother who cannot bare to see her child grow old and leave home.
So, she bought a house with a garden, where she could watch over it,
And allow it to befriend the daffodils.
One day, she visited the quarry and saw rock being broken.
She felt a kick in her stomach and heard the sound of crying stone.
It made her nauseous, and she refused to ever return.
So every year, rocks had to be brought to her door.
And she waited for those white trucks as if they were storks.
As she grew old, she moved north to live among the Rocky Mountains.
She would look fondly over its ridges and call out to them,
My child, my child …
And in the wind, she would hear a whisper,
For nine months you carried me in your womb.
And you have carried me your entire lifetime.
You have carried my memory and my name,
Which no one but you will ever know.
It has been my pleasure to carry you in these final years,
As only a child can comfort an ailing mother.
Allow me to hold your tired hands in mine.
Crawl inside of me and I will birth you into eternity.
I ask but one thing:
You left your shirt in the back of my car
And these thoughts in the back of my mind:
We ran with the moon, just to keep from the sun.
It cast light on things we were too young to face.
So, we found some shitty motel in every town,
But we made sure that we were gone before the sunrise,
You would say that I didn’t appreciate how romantic it was.
I was just too busy tracing your name in the stars.
For some time, we were content being coattails of a perfect evening.
We headed west, and the world spun in the opposite direction.
We were running in place, it only felt like we were getting somewhere.
One morning in Virginia, the years caught up to us.
I went on ahead, and you stayed to watch the sunrise.
As I looked back, I caught a glimpse of the sun
Embracing you with the warmth that I couldn’t provide.
I longed to join you, but the shadow of the moon followed another horizon.
Cold and alone, the sun finally found me on the west coast of Norway.
It illuminated every face that I saw, and I looked for you in everyone’s eyes.
There was no way of knowing who you were, I had only seen you in the dark.
To this day, I still watch the sunset and I picture you
On the other side of the world, somewhere in Virginia
Watching it rise, and allowing it to trace your smile into the sky,
A smile I had suffocated, I tried too hard to keep you from the sun.