Kind When Cruel

When you tell me
I did a good job
and it’s not my first time
doing that kind of a thing
then what you’re telling me
is that all the other jobs
I have ever done
were unremarkable
– literally, else you’d have bothered
to remark upon them –
unless you are inexact in your remarking-
ability, which would make your judgment
in such affairs somewhat less valuable,
wouldn’t it?

Unless you’re saying that the work I did
this time
is so far ahead
of all my other accomplishments
perhaps because of my more frequent
daily incompetence
– in which case,
fuck you very much –
or possibly
you just never cared enough
to pay very much attention
at what I did before.
I guess, if that’s true, then:

Probably it is not your intent
to sling arrows of attack
or hurl pellets of pain
with your barbed blasts of presumed politesse
but your pleasantries, well,
how can I put this kindly?

Shit on the stump of your retarded pleasantries.
The bleeding fucking stump.

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Truck ‘n’ Monkey Show

I just discovered that “Takin’ It Easy,”
The Eagles song
that’s also the Jackson Browne song
is, in reality, “Take It Easy,”
and it is blowing my fucking mind.

I have known that song
(“Rolling down the road,
tryin’ to loosen my load,
I got seven women on my mind…
Takin’ It Easy!”)
ever since I first heard it
on BJ & the Bear,
a T&A truck ‘n’ monkey tv show
from another millennium
and another planet,
and I’ve sung its first verse and chorus
over and over
over the years
and to discover now
after five decades
and a change of centuries
that I’ve always gotten it wrong?
What the fuck.
I mean
come on,
for Greg Evigan’s sake,
what the frigging FUCK?

Is it…
is it maybe possible
that The Eagles released “Take It Easy,”
and then Browne, as cowriter,
opted to rerelease and sing it differently
as “Takin’ It Easy?”
Could that be the case, maybe?
Wikipedia says no
but we all know what the reactionary right
has been up to in filling our minds
with alternate facts, right?

I can see now
that there is no evidence
to support the song
that I have known so well
actually going precisely the way
that I believe it does
which still seems impossible
– like the world has been retilted
at some inconceivable angle
and all axes are entirely
and irrevocably out of whack.

And do NOT even think
of telling me
to take it easy right now.
I will lose my fucking shit.

What worth life today?
All is lies.
All is dust.

I miss Judy Landers’ chest.

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Quittin’ Time

When you said the job we had scheduled next week
was to be cancelled,
I was disappointed, of course,
but far more,
I was relieved
because I was unprepared.
I had not done the necessary research
so did not know the accurate terms
to do the assignment properly.
Had we gone to the job site
it is very possible
I would have botched the project entirely.

Certainly, there are days before the job
and I could have gotten ready.
I could have found time to prepare
and suited up for the work at hand.
I could have become the man for the job
and all could have been well
but really, this is the preferable solution
the elegant, easy way out.

Thanks for the cancellation.
Makes my life much better.

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The Wasting of a Youth

I am reminded again
and again
of how so many
of the things I loved
when I was young
are detestable now.

The comedies I adored then
are, in retrospect, cruel and abusive.
The romances now seem incredibly sexist.
The comics and action movies
I would view with spine-tingled intensity
are, with wiser eyes,
racist, to say nothing
of how poorly they were constructed.
Really, eveything I adored
should, rather, have been abhorred.

But maybe that’s the natural order.
Maybe every generation, eventually,
reviews the crap from their youth
and that critique
is the first evidence of that era’s demise.
Is this, then, a premonition
of the horrors that shall soon befall me and mine?

I don’t think I like the thought
of this shit any better
than the crappy pleasures
of my past.

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Ever Closer

There will come a day
when I will be more
than half your age.
That day is today
and I now finally
old enough
to have lived on this world
for fifty percent
of the time you have.

you will only be
four sevenths more experienced than me
or have one point six times my wisdom
or contain sixty six percent more charm
per serving than I could ever muster.
It’ll take me some time to get there
but I’m coming up, baby.
Oh, soon, I’ll be old enough
to call you baby, too.

I’m getting up there.
I can see it
with my squinty vision
through progressive lenses.
I’m racing you to the finish line
and I’m catching up.

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The Days End

The dumpster outside
is hourly filling
with the former property
of my former neighbor
who for years lived
in the apartment above me
until she stopped.

strangers are clearing
the remains of her belongings
and placing them in the gigantic container
hauled to our location
for the express purpose
of being the final resting place
of all her crap
on the block.

Soon they’ll take
that final resting place
and they’ll send it somewhere else
and they’ll dump it
and it’ll be gone
and forgotten
and life will go on
for some.

Life will go on for me
I suppose.

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Semi-Circle of Reduncedancey

You have to make some changes.
You have to clean house.
You have to get rid of that dirty
cracked thing.
The mirror displeases you
and why should it not?
All it ever presents
is small and afraid
and pathetic.

You are that cliche,
the guy that falls for the waitress
seeing something more
in her general courtesy
Congratulations, jerk.
What’re you looking at?

When will you learn?
How many times
must the wall fall into your face
for you to see
not to run into it?
When will the most obvious lessons
become just a little bit clear
to you?

Grieflets, you’re sad.
Something’s got to change
and you’re that thing.
You’ve got to clean up your act
and fix everything you’ve been doing.
Don’t go to that place anymore
and go to a different store.
Wear out some other floors
and, and just go.
and lock this door.

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Two Path

Two paths lay before you.
One is wretched and ugly
and hair-pinned and hard
– but you knew that
before you even began.
Probably you know every word of this
without it being said
but rituals are what they are
so away we go
even if this is already
the thirty third time
you’ve experienced this speech.

On one road
you go ahead
fording forward, sallying forth.
Attack the unknown
unaware as you are
of all the dangers and temptations before you
dead ahead.
The night covers you,
pit-black and all that.
You’ve got not a clue what’s coming along the way
with the possible failure and the death
but maybe there’s everything you predicted
all the fears and crises of your nightmares
when you started this ridiculous trek
all those years ago.

The other way’s back.
The detour.
The admission of defeat.
The giving up the ghost
and returning
to take a breath
and consider the options.
It’s sensible.
It’s a pivot.
Discretion before valor
and logic in the face of absurd odds.
It’s sensible and will only take you a second
and I’ve already lost you,
haven’t I?

Onward it is.

It’s like there never really
was a choice at all
was there?

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I’ve been trying
flying down these alleys
for what must be years
trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel
but so far
I’ve seen only hazards and brake lights
and no no resolution.
I have come to no conclusion.
I can’t figure it out
at all.

If you could give me a hint
or a clue
as to why I’m supposed to appreciate Tom Waits
I’ll get on it, like,
right away.
But I don’t get it, man.
Why does he sound like that?
He didn’t always, right?

He made that choice
and he’s selected this
as his art form
and it’s clear
that people understand
and respect him
for what he’s done.
I want to be one of those people
the chosen cognoscenti
who look upon Tom Waits
and nod knowingly,
wisely gazing at his latest work
and saying “genius,”
at just the right time.

Teach me to love him
before it’s too late.
I’m sure time’s running out
since, you know,
Tom Waits for no man…
All right. I swear, I’ll stop.

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I have letters Wallace left here over thirty years ago
that were written by some ladies that I doubt I’ll ever know.
The years pass by like distance, and the dust upon them grows
but I cannot I give them up. Will I ever? I dunno.

I haven’t seen him since one sunny Summer in the park
where we passed on the same passage while both crossing round the arc
of the reservoir at eighty sixth and neither did remark
or acknowledge one another, p’raps for fear of bite or bark.

We had left things on terms that were somewhat less than fair
and when he’d moved out he left more than socks and underwear
including, I found, memories, I was unprepared to bear
except on unaware dates where I thought, I’d dare. I’d err.

I think about the me today, and how I would contrast
with that ego-baiting asshole ‘cross that time-divide so vast.
I wonder if, in seeing me now, Wallace’d be as fast
to rise to the same anger we both found thirty years passed.

These questions have no answers, or none I’d dare to get,
for in asking them out loud you’ll find a quarked-up cat, I’ll bet.
By wanting absolution, I’m not ready for it, yet.
But if you meet a Wallace, wish him well.
I’m in your debt.

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