The Girls

Wow,
you look like a couple of girls
I’d hoped to love.
I couldn’t find it in me
to succeed with either of them
but with you, maybe,
it could be different.

The first one,
we sniffed and snickered around each other
wondering just what we could mean,
but when she went off with another guy,
I couldn’t find it in myself to continue.

The next wanted to move in,
at least for a weekend,
and I wasn’t ready
for such a commitment.
With you, though,
I think it would be easy.
Give me a chance.
I’m not as bad as I was back then.

I wanted to love
two women very much like you.
I can’t help but hope
that the third time
will be the charm.

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Elusive

She said, I know you.
I said, "I think you’ve confused me
with someone else."
But she said, You read here, right? John?
"Jon," I corrected, still thinking
she might be talking about
some other guy
but she wasn’t.
I had met her
and we had spoken before
and somehow
I could not remember her
even though she was the kind of creature
I would like to have remembered.

I’ve been meaning to come
to see you play, she said.
"Read," I replied,
"I read poetry."
I meant that, she said
and I believed her.

I didn’t know why she was talking to me
or how she had remembered me.
I didn’t know
how long I could keep up
the conversation with her.
It wasn’t to be much longer.
Goodbye, she told me.

I haven’t seen her since.

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No Alibi

Hey, it’s been a long time; now I see what you’ve been doing:
in all your missing months, it was a baby you’d been brewing!
Oh, just look at that thing! If it’s acclaim you are pursuing,
…Sure… But your brat’s a babe I shan’t be ‘gain a’viewing.

Your baby could be better suited covered by a mask
or stared at after drowning all one’s senses in a flask
or completing any sort of an eye-blinding kind of task.
If you wonder what I’m getting at, you needn’t have to ask:

Your kid’s ugly. I thought you should know.
It appears that you think otherwise and information flow
seems to spare the parents, so I opted to go
and offer my opinion that your kid’s an ugly ho.

Good going, you spawned! Congratulations.
In all recorded history, you are the only ones
who have accomplished this activity, amazed under the sun.
You deserve a bounty for a job well done.

But that bounty ain’t the beauty of the body on that kid.
And that face so loved by relatives is better off well-hid.
I think if Heaven auctioned looks, your child got overbid,
and was left resembling dinner that had off the table slid.

Your tyke’s appearance is simply not first-rate.
I don’t mean to give offense, but this isn’t a debate.
Surely you’re subjective ’bout your spanking new room-mate
but trust: what you’ve created? Just a mother couldn’t hate.

I can’t be sure the problem: how the two parents combined.
And you may well have asked, “Is that his unibrow… or mine?”
I think how you bled/bred together was a danger sign
for the future of the world, pray that’s it for your blood line.

But it’s clear in terms of coupling, you’ll continue to breed
and despite the superstorm you’ve reaped, you’ll pay my words no heed
for though results were hideous, the act is fun, indeed,
so you’ll issue out a further batch of evil demon seed.

Still, that baby’s ugly. Not one more word need be said
but knowing me, you knew, no doubt, that I would go ahead
and inform you that your boy’s the worst the world has ever tread
and naught could change my mind – unless, oh! She’s a girl instead…

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A Staggering Work of Artistic Genius

When they find out
who I stole this from,
they are gonna be in some kind of a snit.
They’re gonna lose their shit.
They’re going to have me shot,
is what they’ll do.

All the folks who speak so well of me today,
they’ll start talking out the other side
of their mouths, I’ll bet,
once the chickens come home to roost.
The fans are very likely
going to hit me
any minute now.

I deserve it.
I don’t know why I do
the things that I do,
just taking the best parts of others’
and making them my own.
Who does that?
Well, yes, I guess I do know who,
but why?
What is wrong with me?

I may never know
for the answer may as well be blowing…
What? Oh, fuck!
You know,
I heard that good artists borrow
but great artists steal.
Is there some way
I can take that line?

Oh well,
if I do
they will just lose their SHIT!

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Blessing of Days

This is how I met you:
at a party, you
playing the slattern
with convincing conviction,
impressing with wordplay
and natural affection.
After a moment
you kissed my forehead
which may well have been sweaty
as even then
at the first
I found you irresistibly hot.

You were gone, afterwards
just as the one I had gone there to see.
She would have little to do with me
and while I was broken for a bit
because of her rejection
I found something that day
well worth living for.
I found you.

This is how you met me:
lurking, looking on.
Glancing from a distance
you hopped over to me
and asked what my deal was.
More: you patiently waited
as I faltered and flounced my way
through an explanation
of out earlier encounter,
which you had been too drunk to recall.

Why did you smile?
Why did you take an interest?
What was it
about my craven approach
that made you think
I might be worth you’re time?
What made you continue to tolerate my presence
for such a blessing of days?
I don’t know
and you might not either
but I felt lucky
that I had such times with you
including that first meeting
an event you never can remember
and one I’ll never forget.

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All Apologies # 0007

The air is sweet,
the clouds puffed.
The breeze is mild
persistent and cool,
and the sound is funky.
You’d have liked this show.
You’d have called it relaxing.

I’m sorry
that I never took you to Brooklyn
to see such a thing.
I’m sorry
we never lay together
in the grass
beside picnic
and listened to groovy tunes
on a lazy summer afternoon.
I’m sorry
that the timing wasn’t right.

I glance through the crowd today
wondering if someone smarter
someone better
has brought you to this fine event
so you could get
what you always deserved:
a pleasant time
with a good man
or woman
or one not yet determined in place
on the spectrum of gender.

You always deserved
all of the genders.
I hope
wherever you are
that you’re having a good day
and you realize
I’m sorry
I couldn’t give that to you.

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So Serious

Honey, there’s no need
to take it so serious.
It happens to every girl
every now and again.
Might as well lie back
and enjoy,
if you’ve heard that before.

Sweetheart, if
you’re just going to take offense
at every insensitive thing I say,
you may never have time
to take offense
at the awful things I do.
There aren’t enough hours
in the day,
if you can believe it.

Yes, I’ve been bad.
Sure, you’ve been hurt.
Of course, it’s a travesty
– a crime, even, but
what’re you gonna do?
Really, what can any of us do?

Yes, there is that.
I suppose so.
Sure, if you…
Well, but…
Damn, girl.
So serious!

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To Mr. Pratchett, With All Due Haste

Dear Terry Pratchett,
Thank you for all
the writing you’ve done for me
– and the rest of the world as well,
of course.
Your brilliance
and ways with a phrase
are renowned and appreciated
I can tell you that.
You’ve given so much
and I worship at the feet of your words
– I do – but
I am afraid
that I need something more.

I would be very particularly gratified
if you could send a note
to my girl.
My former girl.
My girl- to-be.
One of those, I guess.
She’s always loved your writing
and the collaborations you’ve had with others
and she respects your stories
even more than I do,
I think.
She adores you, really,
can’t stop talking about you,
and if you could write to her
and tell her to stop talking about you
and maybe give me the time of day,
well, that would just mean the world.

She is just so focused on not-me,
you see,
and I really need her to pivot a bit
and send more attention my way.
I’m sure a word from you
will do the job
particularly if attached to a first edition
of a rare volume of yours.
Perhaps Strata?
Thanks in advance for supplying the book,
by the way.

Now, I understand
that you’re currently deceased,
which is why I truly appreciate
very very much
you getting around to this
at your earliest convenience.
Thank you so much
for your time, really.
Jon

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The Samples

I know you’re quoting me.
I can tell
that you’re listening to what I say
and appropriating the parts that you like.
You’re sampling me.
You’re collecting my ideas
and you’re using them
for your own suspicious purposes.

I get it.
Even I, occasionally,
will take the words
of those around me
and use them as my own.
The appeal to take
what is not yours
is very strong.
I understand.
I empathize.

But they’re mine,
my words,
and you’re mining them.
Mine!
I appreciate the honor
you bestow upon me
and respect your sources immensely
(obviously),
but would appreciate it
if all future conversations you are involved in
begin with the words
“This has been brought to you
thanks to the brilliance
of Jonathan Berger
without whom none of this would be possible.”

You could deviate
from the script I provide,
I suppose, but
why start now?

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Laid.

You knew what you had to do.
You knew the options in front of you,
the opportunities available.
It was all clearly laid out for you.
Laid? Lain? Whatever.
You knew what you were getting into.

You had a clear path
and an interesting path
and a lot of others in between
and, as far as anyone can tell,
you took none of them.
You opted for the path
of least resistance, which,
thinking about it,
has proven
in the long run
to be something much harder.

Did you intentionally go for the passive way?
The aimless way?
Such a goddamn useless way?
Whatever took you down
your long and winding road,
you’re stuck with it now.
It’s your past.
It’s what has defined you.
It is who you’ve been.

The next question:
what’re you gonna do about it?
The path that took you here
needn’t define you forever.
You can break chains
or stake new directions
whenever you choose.
Will it be today?
And where will you go?

Not so clear anymore,
is it?

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