Granted License

Oh, yes.
I had no idea
but you are an answer to a prayer unspoken
a wish unsaid.
I didn’t know I needed you
until you arrived before me like this
unbidden
with your poisoned roots
your bitter teeth
your shredding limbs
and, oh, your hideous visage!

You are monstrous,
but it is your soul, truly,
that leaves me so in hate with you.
I thank the gods and demons both
that I have been granted license to despise so freely
with a heart so full of venom
that I may
live like this
unanchored.

This new life is wondrous
and it is all thanks to you
and whatever fates brought you to me.
I don’t know what I’ll do
when you’re finally destroyed.
I’ll be devastated, certainly.
You are just that important to me.

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Safety in the Numbers

Just remember:
You’re safe.
Nothing’s happened.
It’s in your head.
It’s only been looks.
You’ve only been frightened.
It’s just menace.
You haven’t died once, right?
It’s not the end of the world.

The looks, though…
His stare, sometimes,
somewhere between motivation and murder
geniality and genocide.

But worry gets no one anywhere.
Fear can be smelled.
Just be calm and cool
and everything will resume normalcy.

Don’t get anxious.
It’s just been looks.
Nothing’s happened
but some unsettled instants.
Nobody’s died
yet.

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Paper Cracks

When a younger manI wrote down in a spiral notebook
all the names of the girls I loved
to commemorate and memorialize
for all the years to come.
I would never forget them, surely,
but this book would permanently record
these affairs of the heart
– or almost affairs
– or looks askance.
Whenever I knew their names, I took them down.

Generations later: my brain is mush,
my memories are dust
and I look to the book
to see what the stupid boy had to think about
and to try to jog what few neurons remain
out of their rotted cavernous beds.

The spiral is bent into purposelessness.
The pages are barely in their place
yellowed and cracked
but the pencil etchings that I thought
would stand the test of time?
Pale illegible scratch marks
forever lost.

My past is buried with my memories.

There is no doubt a lesson to be found
somewhere herein
but were I to write it down
how would I ever find it again?

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Lessons Learned Wrong

Having to ask for something means you haven’t earned it:
if someone hasn’t offered it to you of their own free will
then you have coerced them
and you have effectively taken it from them.
They must give it to you freely
without any effort on your part.
Thus
no asking for dates
or requesting raises
or submitting resumes.
Jobs must come to you!

It is arrogant to presume that you could be of value:
If you haven’t been asked to contribute,
there is no reason to believe your skills
would be useful
in the required situation.
Are you a heart surgeon?
A bus driver?
A professional door opener?
Then why think you are suitable
to manage the responsibilities
of these lauded professions?
Thus:
When someone drops something on the street
leave it.
They knew what they were doing
when they did it.
Who are you
to gainsay it?

You have to be true to yourself – unless that’s selfish.
Then you have to care for the group – but not get lost in it.
Really, you just have to know how to be – trust yourself – unless you’re wrong:

You’ll get it, eventually
maybe.

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A Matter of Faith

It was over video that he sang his song,
words of peace and comfort blasting overlong,
a symphony of syllables expressed into a mike
and pressed onto VHS and taken onto hikes
and road trips and bong voyages all across the world
so that further and wider the message was unfurled,
presented to a public’s full imagination
all from the lips of that original one.

And in the first world room he sang, all alone,
single, solitary, into the microphone
with a safety and security that somewhere down the line
another one would listen to his melody and find
a lesson in the lyrics and a backing line to sing
so that in an eventual, a harmony would ring.
But when he first recorded, it was the single solo noise
in all the hollow studio, of his lonely, fragile voice.

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Allah Use

I doubted you.
I seriously questioned your worth.
For months,
I saw you as less than
perhaps because there was no easy category
but who the fuck am I to complain about such things?
Fucking hypocrite…

But that’s not the point.
I can see now what I was missing.
I can see at least some
of your strength and beauty
that I was blind to all this time.
Your grace was lost to me
because of some damned form of idiocy
but I’m better now
and I’m sorry
and I’ll try not to make that mistake again
with the next sort of you I ever get to see.

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Blocked Chips

I have not yet quite forgiven my mother
for the act of making me this person
and not another one entirely
but then again
were I to do that
I would already be a very different person
than the one I am today.

My mother growing up in Long Island
lived near Martin Goodman
whose son was Chip Goodman
who between them were the Goodmans
who owned Atlas Comics
which would become Marvel Comics
right around the time my mother and Chipper
would have become adults.

Had she turned on the charm
and known the interests of her future kid
she could have cozied up to Chip
and married him
and had his children
so that I could have been born Little Jonny Goodman,
heir to the Marvel Comics Corporation,
and maybe have become Captain Marvel myself
through some clever nepotistic marketing strategy.

Who knows what the Cinematic Universe might have been?
My mother ruined everything.
Instead, Chip Goodman died at fifty five,
I am this miserable Jonathan Berger
and Jason Goodman is
whosoever he may be.

Damn you, mother,
for making history as it was meant to be
instead of creating another reality,
something fantastic and incredible,
for me to marvel over
for all the years to come.

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Mrs. Macklerod

I want it to be clear
more clear than anything else I may say today
that this is a very particular thing I feel.
It is unique
and I could feel it under no other circumstances.

I’m sure you will suspect my sincerity
question my motives
doubt my resolve
and that is the very purpose of my preamble:
to assure you that I am true
and honest
and what I say
is not subjective
or prejudiced
or situational.

What I tell you, I just know,
I would feel if you were not such a woman
of years and color.
It is not those things at all that I hate you.

I judge you purely on your character
– which is awful.
I have heard the things you say
and witnessed the people you’ve harmed
and it is not bigotry that makes you my enemy
but empirical evidence.

I don’t want to be swept up
with all the others
who hate you wrongly, Mrs. Macklerod.
They don’t know you like I do.
My feelings are true.

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“Like What Thomas Jefferson Said…”

Kill the wolf.
Skin the wolf.
Cut the wolf into little vittles.
Sell ’em and make your money that way.
Sever the ear.
Market lucky wolfen ears
(be prepared to answer
“they were lucky for the next wolf over,
who wasn’t being held by the ear!”).
Make a mint!

Or… you could tame the wolf.
It would take some work
a ridiculous level of effort
but
no pain no gain
as Tommy probably said
some other day.
Convince the wolf to do your will.
Coerce the wolf.
Make the wolf your bitch.
There’s a word for that, surely.

At some point, I can only assume,
someone has tried
to captivate a wolf
and encourage it to do the bidding of man
by giving it treats and shelter and love
and building a long term relationship
and in so doing
make the wolf something safe.
Why hadn’t Tom considered this?

Enslave the wolf.
Make an army of him and her kind.
Entreat them to work hand in paw
to subserviate all the other wolves
and tigers and lions and bears
so there never need be fear of holding any beasts
by the ear e’er again.

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Rays of Light

From a distance, I saw you
– I thought I saw you.
I saw a vision, maybe.
Like a wisp of light
or a bit of melody
I thought I recognized
you were there for an instant.
I thought it was more
from the corner of my eye
but I saw no more of you
not that day or any other.

Soon after
I found myself in our old neighborhood:
near the school
and the clubhouse, the store
and the Good Food Diner
– but not anymore.
The Diner’s been razed.
Fire, or gentrification,
or new management,
I dunno.

Did you know about that?
Is that what the wisp of you
was trying to tell me
in that instant of interaction
when you wandered into view
entering my interest
if for only that moment?

I’d love to see you again
to know what that minute meeting meant
and I’d really love to see you again
but it seems like the significance of the symbolism
of that swing-by would be lost
with any further explanation, wouldn’t it?

Wouldn’t it?

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