Not Here, Not Now

Of course, being a man who writes poetry and also thinks about himself a good deal, I have written multiple poems on my birthdays.  Here are my two favorites.  The first, “Upon My Birthday”, was written the day I turned 26.  If you like it, you can hear me read it aloud if you click here.  Here it is:

Upon My Birthday

I’ve spoken at length with you about years rolling by unhinged
like breathless wagons drawn by crazed stallions;
I’ve sat with you in the hushed cellars of our
toilsome peers devising machines of immortality;
I have calmly stepped with you through the doorways of hospitals and morgues,
scoffing at the gall of centuries to lay claim to my soul;
I have laid upon you, dear, halfnaked in dawn’s presence,
sucking sweetly through my nose the air you just breathed out,
heaving my breath in time to yours,
and even then, dear,
(even then!)
I did not feel as truly alive as I do now
upon my birthday,
this day with the earth in a precise arc in it’s trembling orbit
which somehow belongs to me,
this day swinging stubbornly around once a calendar year
so that I may live with true vigor and purpose these scant hours,
and be reminded there was a time
I was not even alive!

 

And here is another favorite of mine, obviously written on the day I turned 30.  There is also an audio version of this one here.

 

On Turning Thirty

Of course everyone knows there is something ridiculous about the way
time moves,
slithering into and out of crevasses,
ravines, serpentine granite chapels like a freezing-cold
underground liquidway,
usually unseen,
usually only the merest mention of it on the barest surface
of these real things we do,
flowing through sand checkout lines and sky traffic jams
like the most unpredictable ubiquitous damned thing you ever did see;

It is when turning back,
craning your head to see the vast vermilion horizon
of your own crusty underpants
learner’s permits
snot smeared on windowpanes
itchy petting zoos
women left in the rain
tears shed in amusement parks
vomit on the lady’s pants
that certain incense in that certain basement
pennies crushed by trains
soaking wet suede sneakers
pot smoked from soda cans
dad catching you peeing in the yard
naked in the car
alone on campus
malls with grandma
the nipple like a bullet in your mouth
and the loudest music you ever heard
that this queerest thing about time is more evident than words;
when you see yourself inside of it, it seems so long,
but when you try to look back on it,
it’s like there was never any time at all,
that all instants happened at once.

Somewhere I am eight,
and somewhere I am wrestling,
and somewhere my mother cradles my tiny head
and somewhere my leg is broken
and somewhere I am drunker than hell
and somewhere I am one-hundred and ten pounds
and somewhere I am dancing dancing dancing
and somewhere I am in those mountains watching those two rattlesnakes have sex and you were there too
and somewhere we stand around a swimming pool full of glow sticks
and somewhere a goose is chasing me
and somewhere a man in a chariot just yelled at me to slow down
and somewhere I am on a couch stricken unable to move
and somewhere my father and I are driving around town wearing Halloween masks and it is funny funny funny
and somewhere I am thirty and somehow remembering the loudest music I ever heard but that place is not here, not now.

 

 

 

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