Bring it on

I feel old and silly
I feel frail and uneasy
here next to young John
in light of tonight’s open mike
and as I say that
it occurs to me that I have always
felt this way
in waves
in unpredictable waves
of headaches and fear
meaning as long as I can
since high school anyway
and those years when Scott and
I shared a dive apartment
in Carlos Malo
he partying, me cringing
suffering migraine after migraine
and complicating it with Coors, Burgie Beer
a diet of ninety-nine cent pizzas
and then when meth hit town
snorting up, high for awhile
then feeling like death
no health insurance and
my head splitting wide
my parents too occupied with their own
miseries and dogma to help me find me a cure
get a job, get a life, get insurance
you’re a man now
well, I never found a cure
but fought my parents well enough
I refused to be a man
and remained to all appearances a pretty poet boy
inside: a broken thing with a cock-eyed skull
that bit back in regular intervals
screaming at me to be healthy
but who’s healthy
at 20?

So now it’s Bisbee
a thousand thousand years hence
with nothing changed
just me aged
aged but alive
a notch above the dead ones, I guess
like Cobain with his stomach pains
and Michael Hutchins, the pain of fame
shit, half the cast of SNL

yeah, so I’m not perfect
in debt up to my pierced nipples
lost in America
self-exiled from half the fucking west
probably wanted in California
and thoroughly unwanted where it counts most
where it has always counted most for me
on the printed page
but still alive
and still getting it down
like a man bedazzled
like a kid who dreams in color
of a journey to the center of the world.

would that I could train you
take you by the hand and show you
but you are impervious and rightly so
there is no right way
only your way
as it has always been only my way
and some baby boomer house wife
cackles from afar and wants answers
but I will burn brightly baby
when your ass is long forgotten.

All hail the frailty.
All hail the crooked path that broke me
and tossed me out anew
still writhing in the pains of birth
for I am ever reborn.

Bring it on.
Bring it on in spades.

© Rick McKinney 1999

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