Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Only in the Worst Way

So, I have a friend... maybe more of an aquaintance at this point... who is in a band. A fairly popular band - Motion City Soundtrack. Sometimes I listen to their records. Though not as much as I used to as my tastes have moved into a more progressive and heavy direction - Isis, Rosetta, Neurosis, Cult of Luna, etc. And when I listen to MCS I find that my man, Justin Pierre, seems to have captured my memories of that near year in 1994-95 and has spun them into emotionally powerful tales set to a pop-punk beat that often brings a tear to my eye and sets me strolling down memory lane.

This usually results in some rather terrible poetry. But at least it gets me thinking about my thoughts - how meta is that? - and putting those thoughts down on paper. Something I've not done enough of since paying a whole shitload of money to refine my craft. Money wasted? Probably. Maybe not. Who knows? Who cares? Good experiences, or something. Grad school didn't teach me to be brave, though, which is something I think the poet must be. Brave and willing to work hard at the craft - revising and revising and revising - never my strong suit. Instead I dash it out and it's over and done.

It used to be the norm to puke out three or four poems a day. Now it's three or four a year. I wonder how much age has to do with it?

So, poetry Tuesday today.

Nelson Hall - 1994-95
Someone once asked me
How can you love me if you don't love yourself?

The question's rattled around my head for years
and years. I've never found a satisfactory
answer. Is this really all we are?

I'm still trying to determine, at
39, who I am and if I give a shit at all.

Most times ambivalence abounds - 
the wrapper that is me - the bag of flesh
around a consciousness
that doesn't understand how to empathize,
but empathizes so much it cannot
see its own emotions are valid and
need release, need validation.

A psychobabble bubble expanding against
the walls of my skull. Threaten to burst, 
then pull back and leave the empty feeling again.

Looking back now, she just wanted a convenient
excuse to get away with a clean break.

But the truth lies there.

At the heart of it, something in those words
must feel true or why do they still prick
after twenty years have accumulated over them?
And how is it that I can remember her eye color
and the small gold stud she wore in her nose
but can't remember her name? 

Did I love her? Fuck, I don't know. I don't know much
from that time - I was just fucked out of my head
as was everyone around me - like the sixties
wrapped in flannel and torn denim, life in a madhouse,
the beer can, Nelson hall - bastion of future rock stars
business majors, burn outs, and wasted lives.

Nine months crossing boarders from 1994 to 95,
a gestation period. When you're 18 each moment seems
an eternity. When your mind is eaten away with chemicals
they seem longer.

I can remember, kind of, nights alone with the northern
winter dark out my window - glass crazed with frost - screaming
in the concrete bunker of that dorm, trying to feel
something real - the disconnection with the world out that
door so complete
I wouldn't talk to anyone for weeks, paranoid
and watching the world melt around me.

It's only in this dark near-winter mornings when
these memories flood back, these strange emotions
that I couldn't process then and can't connect
to anything real now.

I can feel with each year the razor edge of confusion,
of passion, of everything that used to make life both
painful and wonderful and mysterious, slowly dull. Like a TV
on the brink, colors all fading to sepia monotone,
a rerun of a rerun, Mr. Ed and My Three Sons, canned laugh
tracks and over-worn plot lines. Do I really have
another twenty, thirty, forty years of this? A continual
reduction of stimulus, of impulse, of making all

the same mistakes time and again trying to get them right? 

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