Friday, March 23, 2012

poem of the day 03.23.12

gallows humor

in buffalo, new york
i used to sit in this bar
across the parking lot from my miserable job

i’d drink pint after pint for my lunch
and read bukowski books
like a stereotype of a stereotype

i’d watch the old men at the bar
wondering how’d they made it all of these years

watch the old couples eat lunch in silence
or with muted bickering
confounded as to how they hadn’t put a knife
in each other’s back

i’d drink my beer and watch the television
or exchange small talk with the bartender
who had the same name as me

so whenever anyone said it we’d both look

i lived in fear of going back across the lot to that job
being controlled by small men in cramped offices
by trolls with bad breath
who worried more about the stains on my pants
than their own families

i wondered what in the hell it was
that i was doing in buffalo, new york
working terrible jobs
and blowing thousands more on an advanced degree
because the regular degree had failed me

or, rather, i had failed it

for me, every morning in that gray city
was a march to the gallows
and every evening i prayed my heart would give out

every hour hope became more and more of a lousy joke
a trick being played on me

but still every lunch i sat in the same stool drinking beer
sometimes eating something off the menu

reading bukowski as if i were the only man
to have discovered him

i’d sit on that stool and look for something
and the occasional dim flash of genius
would shine across me

words, lines or some other philosophy
telling me to hold my breath and wait it out

and i’d become rejuvenated
if only for the hour

then i’d laugh and laugh to myself
at my own brilliance

like a happy, fat buddha

and the poor bartender
who thought that i was insane
would give me a pint on the house

and the old men at the bar
who’d stopped to watch me unravel
would go back to talking about
whatever it was that had kept themselves jocular and alive

through all of the bullshit
and all of the years.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Nice to be reading JG again ...

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Nice to be reading JG again.


Sunshine and Shadows said...

I love the line about them worrying more about the stains on your pants than their own families.

I wonder how many times we worry about something that doesn't really matter.