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.
I doubted you.
I seriously questioned your worth.
I saw you as less than
perhaps because there was no easy category
but who the fuck am I to complain about such things?
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.
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.
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 what I say
is not subjective
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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?
These years together haven’t been easy
They couldn’t be
with all the tortures
I’ve put you through
and all the fucking bullshit
you’ve just continuously been
willing to take.
It’s been infuriating.
It’s exhausting, really.
this death of ten thousand cuts
should’ve been cut off long ago
and I’m glad it’s going to be severed
even in this most radical way.
It’s enough, now.
It’s time to say goodbye.
You’ve been a steady enough workhorse
for too long.
You should’ve broken free on your own.
I can’t believe it’s come to this.
It’s off to pasture.
Consider yourself terminated.
Armando, at last,
I’m selling you for scrap.
My therapist says it’s time to seek out the sunnier side of things
see the glass as half full
succumb to the power of positive thinking,
all that sort of bullshit.
I’m against the entire enterprise
but I do believe in the power of state-enforced
mandatory mental health court requirements
I’ve been convinced to turn over
a greener leaf.
In wintry weather I search for
the warmest part of the street.
Perhaps it is good, then,
to be homeless
for it might afford easier access to roofs
far closer to the sky
and stars and moon
and, yes, the sun
to provide the heat
to keep me warm through these frozen months.
the absence of associates,
friends of any frequency,
affords me fewer distractions
from other important considerations in life
like solving world hunger
or completing the quadratic equation of love.
There are silver linings
keepings those clouds from just blowing away,
At least, my therapist would say.
There is good out there somewhere
if you squint the right way
and I think I’ve lost just enough vision
to find it.
I’m not entirely sure what to tell you.
You asked for a thing
and I produced the thing.
you had a timeline
that I was unable to meet
but I think, frankly,
it was unrealistic,
and not properly discussed in advance.
Had I known when you expected delivery,
really, then surely
I’d have furnished the thing in a timely fashion,
and it’s here
and here we are
and the trees are much more affordable now
so merry Christmas
and happy President’s Day, to boot.
It’s been so long since I last saw you,
a kid born then
is probably wearing braces.
The awkward silence between us
can drive now, I think,
at least during the day.
Our breakup can vote next Thursday
and the anniversary of our first meeting
was able to drink
The First Kiss has a twentieth birthday, too.
Do you remember it?
Or do all of our dates
now mean nothing?