Alternate Meanings (I)

I have been wanting to be a storyteller
since fourth grade
when Mrs. Takagi had first called Jonah Kaplan
the class poet.
Since that role was already taken,
I opted for the more general title of writer.
Perhaps I could have dared
to cage-match with Jonah
way back in PS 75,
once home of famed substitute teacher Gene Simmons,
but I didn’t dare
so it took me years to claim the name
of Jonathan Berger,
Poet.

I was meant to tell stories,
I have always thought,
but the stories have always seemed
hard to come by.
I am quite excellent
at avoiding danger
because I am not a fool
and do not leap in where they might.
Thus I have had
an exceedingly limited number of adventures.

I make up fanciful stories, of course,
with too many grains of truth
salted in for nutrition
but it is the lies
that hold the flavor
and my words are full of lies
and quite light in experience.

Perhaps the themes smack
of some sort universality.
Maybe I can, on occasion,
make something more honest than I mean to.
I hope that’s right.

Maybe there’s a cheat code to the world,
that explains my words
and everything else.
Maybe any poem heard on a day
that ends with the letter Y
amounts to “I am lonely”
and anything read
in a year that starts with a two
is about seeking the unobtainable.

Certainly, this one,
in trying to understand
the murk of my mind,
must fall in the latter category.

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