Uncivil

Sometimes a relationship gets too angry
too dangerous
too toxic.
There is too much history
and too little evidence
that anything can ever get better.

Sometimes the pain
the annoyance
the differences that keep sprouting up
seem insurmountable
and there seems no way out
but out.

Sometimes it’s clear
that the relationship has to end
that a change has to come
and there’s no recourse
but divorce
Sometimes severance is necessary
and good.

That time, that precipice
appears dangerously close now
and is something to strongly consider
but
I am not ready to give up.
Not just yet.

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My Life in Cheap Thrills

You remember that time
when Tara got a little tipsy
and then a little friendly
and I got a little handsy
and you tried to be my conscience
seeking to entreat me not to take her home
even though that was far from my intention
(I’d been hoping
to take her to her place)?

Why on this darkened earth
would you seek to stop me?
All the action I ever get
is based on the mistakes
young drunken girls make.
Why would you take that from me?
After all these years
do you know nothing about me?

It was so long ago
but I remember it still.

Tara didn’t get with me that night,
you know.
I went to the bathroom to think it all over
(and touch myself)
and when I came out
she was going out with Big Sean
which last I heard
was still going on.

They’re with Friends of Bill
I think
out in Connecticut now
so it turned out for the best.
Not for me
of course
but maybe that wasn’t the priority.
It got me thinking about things
and not touching myself in public so much
so thanks for your part in that
thing back then,
I guess.

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The Buck Stops

“He was just coming
to spend the night,
to sleep in his old bed,”
his brother said,
afterward
when he arrived
at the hospital.
It was almost three
when the taxi hit him
crossing Park
to reach his mother’s house.

His father had died
months before
so maybe his mother,
feeling fragile.
had been seeking companionship
from her sons
or maybe William,
feeling fragile himself,
felt the need to return
to the bosom
where he could feel safe
behind walls
with family.

It wasn’t to be.
He’d crossed illegally
got hit speedily
by a rep from Cabs Kinky
and passed eventually
from complications.

His mother suffered
two horrible losses that year,
though a president’s daughter
and a paperman’s widow.
Her distinctions
failed to save her from tragedy.
She was fragile
like her son
and all of us.

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It’s a She

My latest fan
at my website
(jonberger.com – check it out!)
does not seem to speak English.
I never considered my work
could well serve people
unfamiliar with the tongue
in which it was composed.
Maybe it’s the shape
of the characters
that I write
that is so appealing.

Or maybe
my latest fan heard me perform
and fell so deeply in love
with my boisterous frame
and my balded head
that she
(it’s a she. I’m sure of it)
decided to learn English
on the spot.
Perhaps I have convinced another
of the rightness
of the Anglican cause.

I don’t know what joy
my latest fan can receive
from subscribing to my website
but I welcome her
with open arms
and an open mind.
Just
be a she.

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Kiss of Death

After the funeral
we could’ve fucked
but she decided
that it felt a little weird
and I figured there would be another time.

I was wrong.
There was no next time.
It should have been obvious:
in that moment,
facing death,
we needed to experience life
more than any other time.
If we couldn’t find the momentum
to know each other then
there would be no other time.

We talked about it
later
but the opportunity
never again appeared.
It had simply withered
before our love could ever bloom.

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Ninety Four

His teacher said
he would never learn music
but that was before he changed
his name to Les Paul.
He transformed himself
into the greatest musical innovator
of the 20th century
redefining recording and rock,
creating the instrument
and the language
that many continue to use.

Paul built the structures
around which
we all listen
and continued building
for nine decades
and two millennia.

He accomplished so much
for so long
despite being warned off of music
early on.
Nobody knows the name
of his discouraging teacher
– maybe she changed it from
Lester Polsfuss, too.

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A Word of Explanation

You asked if I had a good excuse
for what I’ve done.
I do, but
I don’t think you’ll care for it.
I did what I did
because I wanted to
which is the reason I do most things
– without reflection
or consideration of politics
or even much foresight.

I am sorry
that I’m not the person
you thought I’d be
or hoped I’d be
or expected I’d be
based on your history
with the rest of the human race.
In some ways,
I am a breed apart.

Still,
I had a good time with the chipped beef
and the orangutans.
I am not ashamed
of the mess.

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History of Today

In the years to come
when we look back
and think about the things we thought
in the history that is today
when our empathy has grown
and our religion becomes some smart sort of humanism
that includes all creatures,
what will we make
of the slaves we made of our four-legged friends
and the regular meals we made
of their four-legged friends?
What will explain away the pesticides
and the hunting
and the neutering?
How will we justify
our lack of consideration
of others?

What will we say
of the carnage in our forests
and the desolation of our seas
and the wide and fevered expansion
of deserts throughout the world?
How will we define the thinking
that went into our speedy depletion
of the resources we most treasured?

What will we believe of commerce
which existed to improve lives
but, when failing to,
remained our system of choice
for far too many centuries?

When we look back on the now
when we are wiser
and know better
than the stupid folk of today,
will we be ashamed
or will we be blind to new errors
we are, at the moment,
still too ignorant to make?

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Father, I Want To

It’s too late,
isn’t it?
There’s no way
this can possibly finish well
so perhaps this time
it is for the best
that it just
ends.

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Irrational Math

I see your lips moving
can feel the vibrations from your throat.
I hear the sounds you’re producing
and recognize the language
the syntax
the words and idioms
that you are producing in our native tongue.

I get all the component pieces of what you’re trying to tell me but
I cannot understand you.

What you do with English is
like irrational math
or some speaking in tongues thing.
You somehow do something imaginary with words
and leave me completely stumped.
I’m lost in a trail of images you’ve dropped
and I just can’t follow.

It’s not that I’m deaf
or dumb
or unused to communing with the strange.
I am conversant with alternatives
but you
have got me beat.
I don’t get it.
What are you talking about?

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