The Stairs

The end bell rings, and school is dismissed
but to rush home quick is a thing I’d resist.
The walk back is quiet, which makes all the sense
as my only companion is silence.
For me, Three o’clock came quickly enough
but it’s clear that the rest of today will be rough.
The hours still left in the day may be long
as I wonder how everything right went so wrong.

Those tall stairs rise so high.
From here, they all but blot out the sky.
Well, of course they do; I’m here inside
but in these stark halls, there is no place to hide.

I’ll offer some story so cleverly spun
that tells inexactly what wasn’t quite done
and doctors the truth just enough so, perhaps,
when they hear it, my ass won’t be beaten to craps.
If I hold my nerve and the narrative’s controlled,
the weak won’t win. Fortune favors the bold.
“I can explain,” surely, I can exclaim
but after, will they ever see me the same?

As I climb these stairs,
my calves and thighs in their pairs
all feel incredibly, shakily impaired
as I prepare to enter the dreaded lion’s lair.

The news that I carry is scary, it’s true.
This package, rather un-delivered, is due.
If there’s something I could occupy, and then rue,
it’s that not to have to tell this thing to those two.

But those goddamned stairs look so big.
When I left they were hardly so ig-
nominiously large.
This morning I practically barged
out the door charging to school
now I feel like a fool
coming home with this shame
upon my home’s name
soon the family will know
what I did at the show
when we went on the bus
and I started to cuss
and the teacher got mad
because I’d been bad
and goddamn I’m so sad…
my dad will not be glad

and these stairs
are so

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Joan of Acre

It is said
that fifty years after her death
her daughter dis-entombed Joan
and found her in good shape.

The church says
that means you’re touched by god.

It also means
you’re touched by your daughter
since Elizabeth said
her mother’s breasts sprung up again
after being pressed.

Why was her daughter checking her mom out?
Why did she wait so long to do it?
Is this a Catholic thing?

It wasn’t enough to canonize
Joan of Acre
even though
her name sounds a little bit
like somebody else’s.

I am ever buried
and get disinterred
so my body can be savaged and humiliated
let me just say
you can start much sooner.
Now, even.

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Happy Birthday, Valerie

I remember her well, from when I was young.
I loved her so strongly, from toes up to tongue
and then up to hair, and back down to her lungs.
There wasn’t a part unadored or unsung.

This girl was my first, but she didn’t care.
In fact, you would think that she wasn’t aware.
Yeah, she wasn’t aware, you could say, if you dare.
It was like she’d not see me, if I was right there.

Valerie never took to my flattery.
Fact is, she never knew me.
She never even knew me.
But Valerie, if you ever hear word of me
and seek something Jon Bergery,
here’s where you can find me:
right here. Right here. Right here…

I would have said something, had I but the chance
to prance in her presence and ask her to dance
or to chase her quite chastely and make wild romance.
But I never got near her. I kept wide dis-tance.

She lived in the West while I lived in the East.
She was worldwide. I was not, say the least.
Though in thinking of her, I have never quite ceased,
I eventually saw our love ’twas not to be-est.

So though, Valerie, my lovely Ms. Bertinelli,
if you ever find yourself near me,
it’s OK to call on me.
Just call on me.
Valerie, if you come to NYC
and you want something new to see,
I will do it with glee.

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Four Twenty Two

Andrew Gold wrote the theme to the Golden Girls.
But he wasn’t a girl
so I don’t know how that worked out.
Maybe he bribed someone
with gold?

Michael Jackson called himself the King of Pop
and he married Lisa Marie Presley
daughter of the King of Rock and Roll
but they didn’t get Madonna to officiate or anything
The Church didn’t play.
Prince has a song called “Pope”
but I don’t think that’s relevant at all.

Some thoughts I thought on Four Twenty
but didn’t put down until Four Twenty Two
when I wasn’t so high from getting down to the Stones
and thinking ’bout you.

Speaking of Prince,
I don’t believe he ever played with Queen
or Duke Ellington
or Count Basie
but I’m pretty sure he jammed on “Louie Louie.”
Y’know? By the Kingsmen?

Mark Millar wrote the comic Kingsmen.
He’s no relation to comic writer Frank Millar
who is no relation to comic aficionado Frank Black
who is no relation to Jack Black
who is no relation to Jack White
who was no relation to Meg White
– despite what they originally said.

I’ve got a pretty good bootleg
of the White Stripes playing
“Thank You For Being a Friend,”
if you want to hear.

Some random things I’ve been thinking
since you walked away.
Then been on my mind for a bit
though I only wrote them down today.

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411’s a Joke

Four one one’s a joke in my town.
It offer’s me no ways to run around.
Teaches me not to swim, fly, or race on ground.
If it’s good, I’ll be tied, and bound.

Four one one is a miserable mess.
There’s better ways to get info. Confess
that you search elsewhere to find an address
or the locale of the latest protest.

If you wanted to find information,
would you call up your local four one one?
Hell no! Nor would anyone
since it’s a grandma-fammin’ joke, there, son!

I’ll never use that telephony service!
If I ever felt the need: Lord preserve us!
I’d be in desperate straits, so be nervous
about the fate of what we learned and the disservice

since I’m suggesting that what you’ll hear is useless
because the operators they have are toothless.
And if you think that my critique right here is ruthless
then you have never heard their answers – such a nuisance.

I’ll repeat: Four one one is a joke, y’all.
You will never be wiser after a call.
Want information? You’re heading for a fall, y’all.
You might as well throw you phone against a wall.

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Personal Statement

An attempt at an answer to “Please use no more than 150 words to explain what makes you special” in a job application.” I showed it to my mother. She didn’t get it.

For the last twelve weeks, off of Bruckner Boulevard, I’ve been taking this course, which, while ridiculously hard, has been making me feel somehow self-improved. It is in this very spirit in which I’ve been found moved to be inspired to apply to enter this position (to express appreciation).

Now I offer exposition of ability in which I might perhaps be found unique – a task that seems daunting. With millions, so to speak, out there hoping to be hired, what could make one stand apart? Should I describe performances in which I bear my heart, or outline presentations led on a weekly basis? I host an open mic in the East Village: an oasis for the people who have joined in the community. My role as the MC is a pleasure and a duty. Perhaps, then, successfully I’ve detailed in time a sense of my identity over course of rhyme.

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Admissions Payment

Being common concerns me.
It’s not what I prefer
and if the other option
is to be thought a cur
I think that is my preference.

At least I’d be unique.
So if there’s something bad to say,
perhaps I’ll choose to speak
that selected phrase
and bear resulting shame.

Sometimes that is the only way
to ever win the game
of notoriety
or celebrity
or animosity
or the ridiculosity of seeking to be recognized
by shape or face or name.

If I must be hated?
At least then I’d be rated.
It’s the fated price
I’ll pay for fame.

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Waiting for the Bus to Leave

We watch white rabbits race randomly by
across from the benches that we occupy.
We sullenly sit at this post-midnight hour,
neither admitting the bewitching power
of silently spying the creatures at play
while we’re whiling our time ’til we finally say
the few words we have left to speak between us
when I say goodbye and you board that damned bus.

We’re waiting for the bus to leave.
After that we can begin to grieve
or secretly admit we’re relieved
how we’ve been separated through fate’s sieve.

The night is old; we feel older still
and yet now we know there is time left to kill
as the evening wears on and we finally let lie
all the tension between us that has yet to die.
We had tried for so long to maintain all the love
that we had for the other but I’m now not sure of
just what we were fighting for all of those weeks
since we’re now at the Finish with no words to speaks

and we’re waiting for the bus to leave.
You’ll be rolling away. I will be relieved.
We can both separately act like the bereaved
and we were victims, complaining to any who would believe.

Any minute now, the bus will finally board.
You’ll be gone. We’ll be done. I’ll have cut the cord.
We’ll be free of each other; our lives can restart.
I’ll take up a hobby. You can start selling art
or whatever it is that you wanted to do.
I won’t know; I won’t hear from you
unless – after this – we again choose to talk,
but that is an option at which I will balk.

We’re waiting for the bus to leave.
Now may look happier, looking back, than we can conceive.
Sometimes you cannot judge destiny’s weave.
Maybe you and I will know more, after you leave.

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You may not know me, but I’m a pleasant sort;
the very merry fella who would never abort
a conversation in relation to an aggressive tone
but there’s a subject or two that might be best to leave alone.
Stuff in the bedroom? I’ll discuss anyplace.
Politics’s a whirlwind I can rap about for days.
Religion is a topic I have often discussed
but if there’s a single thing that makes me recoil in disgust:

Poetry is the thing I hate.
It’s almost always less than eighth rate.
I don’t read it – except on a date
And usually then it’s mine.
I know no poets that are any good.
Their rhymes are trying and oft misunderstood.
Their latest books, the greatest waste of wood.
Were they all gone? I’d be fine…

Don’t get me wrong; I like lyrics a lot
and satire is great with a sporadic bon mot.
I’ll go to theater every day of the week
but poetry is something that is simply unspeak-
ably bad in my experience. It never gets me off.
One time at a reading, the best part was a cough
that the reader presented in the middle of a peace.
it stopped her reading for a minute – I can say that, at least.

Poetry is a thing I detest.
If a just god ever listened and respected my behest,
she would be paying attention: take a look at me now!
Just point in this direction and with an explosive POW
destroy all poets in a ninety mile wide
radius – or diameter – (I failed math, though I tried).
And with that little item taking care of what is wrong
I think you’d find how more able I’d be to get along.

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In Memphis, a ghost in a Nudie suit floats
looking for boats in to sow some wild oats.
This mutton-chopped specter looms over this land
looking over a landscape he can’t understand.
This brother of Jesse studies the city
a shroud without mercy; no humor. Unwitty.
The man has no plan; he haunts his old haunts
a shadow just shadowing; painfully gaunt.

Take a bow, Elvis. Your legend looms larger than when you were near.
Take a flight, Elvis. You’ve been dead even longer than you lived here.
Put your collar down, Elvis. You started off strong; you ended up weird.
Get outta town, Elvis. Graceland’s doing fine from receipts you’ve cashiered.

The ghost studies songs, there’s little of him.
The rhythms he’d made are surprisingly slim.
What he hears, he can’t stand. He’s so out of touch
except the oldies’ stations; with a “Thankyouverymuch”
he speeds ghosty quick to the parts of the world
where his sound is respected, and whispy, he twirls.
He flits and he flees in the air everywhere, happily Elvis flies.
And he cries “I’m in my blue heaven!” And then he promptly dies
(again. Or discorporates. Or, or something).

Take a bow, Elvis. Your life was cool, your death overlong.
Get outta here, Elvis. Your haunting shoulda been like the length of a song.
Leave the building Elvis. Take the hint, like back in ’56.
Put your collar down, Elvis. You’ve been dead a long time, so go hit the bricks.

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