i've reached the end of my poetry resources due to novel writing. so i offer this:
some of them used to say the worst kind
one went around the classroom doing
“duck, duck, goose,” and when he got to me
he said “cow.”
oh, the way the room exploded on that one.
another took his pencil tip and jammed it
right into my thigh, but i got him back
by not changing the way my face looked
even though i could feel it all rushing up
inside of me.
on the playground they sang to the tit-less
girls “jay might be fat, but you three are flat,”
and i think maybe i joined in because it sure
beat the shit out of the other alternative.
and the tit-less girls loved those boys,
but they never paid me any mind.
i’ve had friend’s mothers comment on what
i was eating, and i’ve had them take the food away.
i’ve been called the worst by the best of friends,
and i’ve had strangers shove me down halls for no
reason other than whatever was hanging around
on the surface.
when i was ten, i was tormented by a pack
of girls in the grade school hallways all because
i told a friend that one of them was pretty.
i’ve been measured by old jewish men
for polyester pants in smoky pittsburgh stores
because nothing in the department store
and i have had humiliation rained down on me
in the most comforting and secure places
i’ve danced with ones i loved, only to watch
them walk off with others
that same night
and i’ve declared my soul in the streets,
only to watch them drive away into the neon
of another lost connection.
there were so many endless nights
in endless childhood bedrooms
with music played out of a shitty boom box
on the hardwood floor
where i lay pining and pining away
over blank-eyed girls that were too dumb to talk.
i’ve been from new york to san francisco
and i’ve seen the degradation on a brooklyn street
and some days when i play back the past
in my head it becomes too much
but it’s never enough to really get at me now
all you ghosts
all you hooligans and tormentors
all you lost women with your empty lives now
all of you, never knowing then what you were creating
but i knew
i knew it all along
and i just want to say thank you because the lessons you
taught me meant the world to me
because i’ve got a skin that’s thick and gray
and if anyone comes at me now
they better do it with knives out
and blood running down their face
otherwise it’s going to be a hot time
in the old town tonight.