The private retreat of your alluvial heart,
Anger makes a man of you,
Slash with a butcher-knife those moods you cage,
Bottled-up for our benefit.
Until the kettle whistles.
Absent rhyme or reason, your madness comes neat.
Grab that pallid filthy skin on a coat rack with missing teeth,
Detest your missing teeth in a small door-side mirror,
Walk nude the dank biting streets,
Where your envy bemoans concluding youth,
And your boyhood memoirs are but little feet tracking mud on kitchen linoleum,
A backyard tire swing Papa never fixed,
A glass shard his wife pulled from your red open scalp,
A gift he left there cos you talked to damn much for a man,
Ah, the ellipsis of a good era…
Now once roguish cheeks are concrete-tough,
Rough enough to hide tears,
Throat aches from forced civility,
That big, intrepid lion heart you prize is rent in two,
And your little ego in shoeboxes marked ‘fragile’ are rubbed wrong,
Where your exquisite politics is bad-mouthed,
And you long to kick an activist in the head,
When you hanker after your neighbor’s healthier wife,
But the one into whose eyes you once dipped,
your last love, she comes thru the beaded curtain timeworn,
steeped in vitriol.
You married your Maman’s doppelganger.
Now boyish charms fade thru hot exhales,
And your days of waste count in S.I. units of regrets,
When you size up smaller men by fragile jaws,
The things you could do, if it pleased, if only, if back then,
In truth, you know, you are most powerful in your favorite chair,
The king of two, my mother and I,
Arm-rest shined from squeezing,
Friday night boulevards, I watch you sidle aghast under neon lights,
Nothing out there your glass eyes,
A stranger’s tobacco exhale wakes you alive,
And you are the unseen creep,
Friends, hair, and sinew have thinned,
And all you are, mirror-forward, is your old man on repeat,
When in doubt,sometimes, cry
It is the best you could ever do for us.
The best you could ever do for me.
Image | Unsplash | JD Mason | @jmason