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George St. Heartbreak
I am sick with watery eyes and body aches,
I fear I have the flu.
A congestion of the lungs has me coughing constantly.
Insomnia stains my eye sockets;
They look as though charcoal had blackened them.
For the first time in my life,
I look older than my real age.
Years ago, when a child,
I read auguries in the snarled patterns of clouds,
And practiced divination in how snow
Accumulated to subtle differences of height
On the post rails surrounding the corral.
I examined the frozen breath of horses.
I hoped to see some hint of good fortune,
But abstracted solely gloom and heartbreak.
Today, desperate and preoccupied,
I try to pick out the future from the way
Antenna wire twists against the white walls,
And runs up and down
Along the molding in my bedroom.
Once again, all readings seem dismal.
My mind has fallen into a trench,
And, like some foot soldier, I dig a deeper hole,
Hoping to escape an enemy barrage.
Yet I fear my own defenses, that mud may bury me.
I keep to the apartment all day,
Flipping over playing cards,
Looking for my destiny every time,
A queen of hearts appears from the deck.
It's going okay tonight, not too bad.
'Don’t be wearin’ that stickpin,
The one with the opal on top.'
I found it rummaging at a local swap meet.
I have heard about the reputation of opals.
Many people consider the gem as a bearer of bad luck,
Especially should one buy it for one's own self adornment.
My luck isn't very good in the first place.
I don't think me wearing an opal
Changes the outcome of life that much.
No eulogy for this affair of heart.
No photographs left here for me to remember us.
I see no people down the street to witness
Me driving off in the Ford alone.
Rainy and cold outside today,
Happy couples walk the avenues,
Huddling close, tight, one to another.
Your name has been deleted from my speed dial.
It has vanished from my computer screen.
I guess these musings are the closest
It may ever come to a biography of us.
I must wonder if this whole fantastic romance
Does it amount to no more now
Than make-believe, a wild course of my imagining?
Is it a footnote in this big book of my own?
No children will be named for us,
Not that you wanted it anyhow,
The children being named after either you or me.
No admission will ever be charged
For entrance to the home where we once lived,
Spoke ardently of love for one other,
And I attempted verse to celebrate us for the ages.
And despite all the noise coming from the street,
All the appointments I have to keep this evening,
I can only lie on the floor and look to the ceiling.
The light is going out of my eyes.
Some people lust after money.
Others seek a hundred different lovers.
Lots of people crave more than a fair share.
I, I just want you, your love, dear,
And while life goes on without you,
I feel increasingly impoverished.
I have fallen into awful ingratitude.
A grand poverty of spirit besets me.
I exaggerate my mood,
And in a panic I envision a national calamity.
My citizenship revoked, I am a refugee,
Lost to my wife and child and forced to flee home.
I have abandoned my bed and kitchen utensils.
I know it wrong for me to venture
Such outrageous scenarios;
Yet when I sit here alone, still I feel,
That prayer fails and in my life today, Abomination.
I am bereft of Succor, as if, God punishes me.
Sadly I postulate notions contrary to the faith of millions.
The awesome numbers whose testimony concerning Grace,
Its power in everyday life, mirrors the notion,
The every hair on our head has been counted.
And, too, I betray a personal belief, which chief tenet holds --
The breath of life requires daily thanksgiving.
The wind and rain seem harder now,
The storm windows occasionally shake,
Yellow leaves are being driven into slithering sheets,
Upon the sidewalk and curb stretching along George Street.
Lost in other worlds, mind running a narrative from guise to guise,
Assorted characters riotously clamor in my head.
Some appear as wisps of smoke, resembling ghosts,
Hazy semblances, others as identifiable faces, ancients,
Or people from my everyday life both current and past.
Sometimes they appear alone or they chatter all at once.
They seem to plead for life, or to want to live again.
It could be that they wish for some sign of recognition.
I guess they want to be remembered, vainly hope that these lines
Increase their chance at immortality.
I see and hear so much anguish from them.
While they continue in their importuning,
They throw me a line or two, even a stock phrase.
They try a hapless image, or urgently intone a fetching conceit.
Someone just whispered in my ear that I should tell you,
I write a verse which is a tear drop on the face of time.
Any chance to play a part, any bit in the script,
Causes them to go on and on,
Plaguing me with endless story lines and denouements.
Those voices, their ghost-like figures and faces, ultimately exhaust me.
Then they prevent me from falling to sleep,
Demanding a fierce edit,
A late-night rewrite of this or that aspect of the tale,
What might have been, what has been,
The bright white light, the turn to bloody, stinking thinking,
All promise of happiness broken, the terrible details of remorse,
Me being here planing refuge in warm, sunny clime, an expatriate;
You back in you native land breaking chunks of ice
Just to enter the front door of your home.
It really does not matter where we are for the fact remains,
You no longer on the bed sleeping next to me.
Your body warmth is unavailable to me
Yet how I sort and file our hearts' drama,
However I work the backwards and forwards,
The comings and goings, the delete, the copy and paste,
I am at loggerheads. I feud with myself.
Was I born to loose you?
Whether I direct the faces and voices to entrance or exit,
Stage left or right, the players, all their insistent monologues,
The show in its entirety, all of it
Falls upon the end-point of this, the one central moment,
And nothing remains but this very minute,
Right where we are, at this place, at this instant.
Was that you? I could have sworn it was you.
Were you waving at your village's web cam yesterday morning,
Believing that by chance I was watching?
Had you wanted to wish me a furtive hello?
Remember the old, Sunday school lesson?
We are meant to share the Curse,
Adam's Fall when once he bit the apple.
Time itself remains nonredeemable,
All mortal experience always, eternally present.
Do I hear an objection?
Darling, do you suggest some musing about our future?
Perhaps we have another day, another place.
OK. We shall call it 'Chapter 28', yeah, yeah sure, that's the ticket.
We set sail, and merrily make our way, find home in a land,
Far away, on the other side of the baths of the eastern stars.
What powder or liquid allows us to suppose a tomorrow?
Our minds pretend our continuance!
That phantasm that we awake and have another day,
Who can guarantee the next sentient instant?
The telephone is not ringing,
No mail in the box.
I must wonder if anyone manages to bear with me?
Would such good person allow me one more turn of phrase.
I wish to take this sad poem and make it better.
At least I am not drinking.
And given severity of my current heartbreak, thank God.
From Him what strength, what glory of accomplishment!