the hats I once wore

see the people, watch them
wearing the hats and suits and jewelry that you wore once
and wish you could don again even if only for a night

see all the different faces you could make and varied words
you could picture uttering from your mouth

long for a myriad of realities that are not yours
but could have been

see, look, watch, long, envy
and accept your world as your own
yours is the world of many faces
worn in secret, in moments of experiment

see them all as failed trials
of paths sought after then abandoned
as false fulfillment

envy no more
you are yourself
beautiful and radiant and true
embrace that empty vessel
you

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another opening night, again

another opening night looms ahead
right around the corner
just a block away
a sleep
one massage of dreams before
the lights and clapping
(hopefully)
before I put my routine
on hold
in order to become a spectacle
for an hour, tomorrow
I will once again dance and sing
hit my marks
(hopefully)
will it mean anything at all?
I wonder
to the crowd, perhaps
I will with my team provide
an hour’s worth of entertainment
and something for couples to discuss
over pie
but to me
sometimes I feel like if the crowd
just disappeared
I wouldn’t care
I entertain, yes
and the laughter I incite does
tickle me
but my participation is selfish
self-serving, self-affirming
my acting means more than my actions
the escape through playing a character
is greater than the escape of drugs
it elevates me from my station
my problems do not exist
I have no rent, no job at the bar
no concerns about hygiene or
whether there is enough toilet paper
or if those tomatoes in the fridge have turned
there is only my life on stage
with a beginning and an end
and drama and laughs in-between

this place needs a grump

haul yourself, sticky and unyielding, from the womb of sleep
it’s barely midnight
dreams were clingy and horrible
babysitting grown people drowning in chaos
need a drink
throw on a wrap and walk to the taproom
slide onto a leather perch at the end of the bar
take in the people:
four acting student types near the door
trying hard to sound stylish
a trio of business casuals
whose table boasts of salad bowls and martini glasses
a crowd of sleeveless muscle cars in the back
just finished some big job
happy couples abound in the bar
clad in their post beach attire
skins beaming and lightly browned
spirits spiked with rum and sun-bathed
the air inside is giddy
the music is motivated and driven
the bar pulsates with youthful zeal
I know immediately what must be done:
I power down my first beer
and wave for the tender
something stronger and keep them coming
I need to get drunk
no time for smiles
last call is just around the corner and there’s work to be done
I’m not here to be pleasant
to twitter and giggle with these dumb young
to gush about the sun and fun
this place is overflowing in such things already
it’s saturated with good vibes in yuppie central Vancouver
energy and youthful exhuberance are never hard to come by
what this place lacks is a curmudgeon
a grump
a loner
someone off to the side
something to take the edge off
a taste of reality
sticky and unyielding
peppering this happy room with seasoned boredom
all these pretty, shiny things can be exhausting
the world always needs a loner like me
to balance the scale

saturday morning swim class

the smell of the pool
warm chlorine
whirring of underwater jets
feeling of cold, slick tile underfoot
sounds echoing off high, hollow ceilings
screeching of the lifeguards’ whistle

memories come flooding back
in waves of soft pool water
that parking lot outside
cold winter wind turning
to fragrant humidity as you walk in
hearing the slapping of bare feet and laughter
of fellow children from beyond the inner walls
that first dip
water wrapping you like a heavy, soft blanket
stinging your eyes
burning your throat
rawness searing your nose
when you breathe in at the wrong time

afterwards
your hair wet and sticky
freezing in the cold
back to the car
for after-swim treats
McDonald’s cheeseburgers, fries
and root beer
then off to the video store
to rent a cartoon

nothing to look forward to from there
except the whole Saturday
those were the days
the happiest of my life

being saved

once again
this suffocating sea of shit
has come close to stealing
my breath
once more
she gives me hope
the promise of beauty
a prospect of happiness
I’m beginning to get used
to this
not accustomed to having an angel
just my self, my hate
and a bottle
stewing in the dark
visited by memories and regrets
she tells me I’m not alone
at least, I don’t have to be
she will share my bottle
share my darkness
hear my regrets and memories
temper my hate
I could get used to this
to being saved
to not being alone
it’ll be a stretch
but maybe I can handle it
certainly I hope so
because I think
I like being saved
much more then
being damned

gods

Tom Waits growls and wails from the living room stereo
I crack a fresh beer and join her on the bed
a freshly-bought anthology of early Bukowski poems sits on the desk
read me something, she says
I read her poetry and drink beer
as she listens with eyes closed
her mouth held in a grin of contentment
I finish a poem and close the book
resting my head back on her thigh
she sighs deeply
I can’t remember, she says, the last time I’ve been this happy
neither can I
is this not Heaven?
are we not gods?

halo

this halo surrounds me
bathes me in happiness
exuding warmth touches those close
illuminates me to ecstasy
a feeling of exciting safety covers me
in a higher state of sensitivity
my shivers disturb the surface
these waves don’t rupture the centre
my floor, my depth, my core
my soul sleeps under wind and wave
this halo around me
lights my dreams
halo