The Form

Know my body.
Learn the things
that have made me. This
is where the sweat pools first
and this
is where the sweat pools last.
That freckle looks like a pierced ear
and those freckles over there
resemble the constellation Cassiopeia.

My smile is a rare thing
because I do not like my teeth
and my gums bleed occasionally
where I sometimes bite them.

My right leg shakes
when I’m nervous or excited
and my whole body shakes
when I first see you
after time apart.

My hair line
is not without faults.
My body hair
is not without gray.
My stretch marks
are not visible
but only because skin in my family
is conveniently elastic.

There are pocks and warts
that I don’t like to talk about
but are obvious
under special circumstances
– some of which we’ve already experienced
though some are still to come.
can be found
on occasion, as well.

There is much of my form to know
little of it worthwhile,
in my opinion.
I hope
after enough research
you can prove me wrong.

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Your worth is defined by your actions.
Your actions are defined
by what you can produce.
Is it a thing
or an art?
Is it the love of family and friends
and folks you fuck?
Is it the animosity you create
and the systems that are changed
because of it?

You can make fear or resolve
or a swing set
that your kids may remember
long after you’re gone.
You could produce a really great pizza recipe
or a song like an infection.

But if you leave nothing to show,
what have you done?
Who are you?
What is your legacy?

You have to produce
You have to do a thing
of some sort
or what are you worth?

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Incipient Disappointments

She’s not going to be there.
You travel in hope
of seeing her
where you’ve seen her before
but her schedule
is unpredictable
and your hope and desire
offers no insurance of result.
She will not go out tonight.
She has better things to do,
things that don’t involve you
as part of the equation.
She is living an entire separate life
that had naught to do
with you.

It’s good to get out
despite your fears
that this mission
is doomed to failure.
It’s good to try, too,
but it is best to be honest with yourself
and set expectations low
so as to avoid the obvious incipient disappointments
coming down each and every pike.
The wisdom of pessimism
will cocoon you
saving you from surprising misery
at voyage’s end.

When you arrive at your destination
she will be nowhere to be seen.
You will be alone.
Your quest will remain incomplete
you opt
to start a separate quest altogether

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The Subject of You

The little tyrant I take care of
asks after you
with some frequency.
Maybe she saw me looking
at one of the pics
I took surreptitiously
when you were busy with one of the thousand things
I’ve seen you do.

She wondered if I liked you
and I try to give her honest answers
to genuine questions.
Since then
the subject of you comes up
with wind-up regularity.
We’ve gotten to explore
issues of relationships
and gender issues
and mutual respect
and non-verbal communication.
I’m learning quite a bit.

She is very inquisitive
and very interested
in what you are like.
I’ve been happy to describe
as best I can.

I just hope the little tyrant
is not too disappointed
after what I have to tell her tomorrow.

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Terror 2

My breath is short
just thinking about you,
slightly from excitement
but mostly from fear.
I have no idea how to be
before you
between my hope
and anxiety,
I don’t know if you hate me
or love me
or even know who I am.

The alcohol
quiets me
a little
but my heart
beats too rapidly
when I enter your sphere.

I worry so
about your reactions
because I don’t understand them
but want to
very much.
I don’t know how you got this important
so quickly.
I don’t know why
I’ve come to hold you in such esteem
but I know how frightened I am
of what you think
when I have so little sense
of what that is.

Half the time I see you
I flee.
The other half
I fly to you.
You polarize my system.

I really think
I’m gonna puke.

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The feel when you came up
with an original way
to encapsulate your feelings on a subject
and you put them into a poem
and then you randomly glance
through your back catalog
and find that you wrote almost the exact piece
a few weeks back
thinking it was original then
but you are so myopic
that you forgot all about the you
of that yesterday
and goldfish-bowled your way
into believing your thoughts today
were brand-new and unprecedented,
just like you did last time.

The feel when you realize
how small you are
in the face of your past
which doesn’t even take into account
everybody else’s past
and the possibility
that the original thought
you already experienced
has probably been experienced by everybody else
a dozen times each
and you’re even more unoriginal
than the repeated use of the word "original,"
avoiding any synonyms at all,
would imply.

The feel when you wonder
if you meant "infer"
at the end of the last stanza,
and THEN wonder
if you really meant "stanza"
in the line above
and not "paragraph."

The feel when
is doubt

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Haunting House

The building leaves an envelope
for the rent under my door.
I slip in a check
and push it back out.
My bills get paid online
and delivery services are fast and efficient
in my neighborhood.

I am never leaving my house again.
There is no space for me
in the outside world
where I can be seen
in a way
I do not wish to be.
I will not subject myself to that
nor any other.
I will remain at home
where it is safe.

I have my books and poetry here
and have no need for anything
that remains in the ravages
beyond my window.
I can ignore the apocalypse
of the modern
and stay protected
behind lock and key.

This is the place for me now.
This is the land I shall haunt.
This is all the world I need
from this day forward.

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Dylan’s Chillun’

That power pop band
the New Dylans were the self-proclaimed heirs
to the Dylan name
– in name only –
but others had greater claims.
Sam Dylan’s Supreme Dicks
were far more experimental
and Jakob Dylan’s Wallflowers had a much bigger song.

(By the way,
an early member of the Wallflowers
was named Barrie Maguire
who is no relation to the Barry McGuire
who charted high with Eve of Destruction, one of the first Dylanesque songs at the top of the pops. Wheels within wheels.
{and speaking of wheels,
Stealers’ Wheels went to number one
with a song that tried to out-Dylan Dylan
in delivery, absurdity and nasality.
“Stuck in the Middle With You” was co-written by Gerry Rafferty, who did it again with “Baker Street,”
which has nothing to do with Dylan
but had a really notable sax-line.}
Interesting, no?
Moving on.)

I met a Dylan wannabe
called Sam Camus
who later started aping Oasis,
of all artists.
He looked a lot like the Bringing It All Back Home guy.

And, of course,
all of this from a name
that Zimmerman took
from Dylan Thomas in the first place. Not a bad legacy
for some drunken poet.

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New Dylans

Once upon a time there was a songster sans compare.
He wrote the best of lyrics and had really funky hair.
He became the standard by which all others would sink
and almost instantaneously the press devoted ink
to finding his successors; all those that might arrive
to replace him in the pantheon were he to take a dive.
Dylan was that artist, and those followers were, too
each thought of as the next best wave and so were thus called “New.”

They were all fine lyricists: both thoughtful and smart
and each of them could spin a tale of detail and with heart.
Some might employ a band but their name would be on top
and most were white and most were dudes, but there the likeness stops.
All these folks would play their songs, get pinned with the label
and claim some commonality with Bob, skirting libel.
This army of writers took to airwaves and to fans
and soon were dubbed the songwriting elite: the New Dylans.

To be a New Dylan means to be compared to him
and often that risks parallels that leaves one looking dim
for Bob the First, he took the prize and wrote the book on song
with everyone else strumming merrily along.
Still they took their turn at bat, giving it their best
to be thought first an acolyte, then different from the rest.
So for a week or for a year, each was thought The Man:
The only individual to be the New Dylan.

John Prine in the sixties was praised by Bob the First
and for a Next Dylan, you could look at some much worst.
The third Wainwright followed, and he sometimes joked about
his special club inclusion; in fact he once let out
a song called “Talking New Bob Dylan,” in which he’d admit
he started like a clone, before getting to his hit
about a highway accident – though not on Sixty One.
After “Dead Skunk,” he was Loudon, not New Dylan.

So many get tagged with that oh, so special name
but often afterwards, they’ll develop their own fame
like Steve Forbert, so thoughtful! Or Dan Bern, so wry.
Or Patti Smith, who though a girl, could write just like a guy.
ome would be more literate, like Elvis Costello
and there are many more than we could ever really know
because there’s a new Dylan almost everywhere you look.
A new Dylan in your cupboard. A new Dylan for our nook.

We want these kinds of writers; in our hearts they do excel
even though in this age their records never sell.
After all, when did a Zimmerman last top the charts?
More than a decade ago! His latest singles? Farts.
Still, the open mics are filled with hopefuls every year
who try to climb his tower, conquering every fear.
Yes, to be a New Dylan, is for many still a coup.
You might say “it is all they really wanna do.”

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Recommended if you like sadism.
Recommended if you like nasal vocals.
Recommended if you like performances of varied quality.
Recommended if you like brilliance.
Recommended if you like torture.
Recommended if you like tortured brilliance.
Recommended if you like sensitivity
and strength of vision
and visions of Johanna
and million dollar bashes.

Recommended if you like popular culture
and the Great American Songbook,
later edition
and additions to your beliefs
and philosophies
and comprehension of universe.

Recommended if you like to live fully
and not dully
and want to duly appreciate what so many others have before.
Recommended if you like Springsteen
or the Byrds
or any Wainwright
or latter day Beatles
or almost anything else.

Just… recommended.

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