Under The Big Top – NEW POEM

I was working on this and now it is done. The title has changed – enjoy. I am going to upload the sound cloud soon if you’d like to hear the “scratch/memorization” track . 

 

There’s a locomotive in my chest
barreling down the tracks,
these hands,
tap at keys quicker than a few
things in the west
and the typewriter trapped between
my ears, sings these things, here.

Here,
I don’t mind.
I’ve… grown quite used to growing through
a microphone,
things don’t always come out right on the
other end.

But,
That doesn’t always make things difficult.

Often,
interesting…

In this circus
who’s for the clowns?
some people
paid for the show, and the rest of us
will clean up when everyone leaves.

You see ~
This steel stuck, tons worth, of a track riding beast,
gone one way crazy, train, in my chest
doesn’t necessarily have a destination.
one, direction -
forward.

And often the interim finds me tapping
at the keys ~
finds me,
finding… New reasons
to breathe and bear the weight of whatever
the world wants me to juggle, because
we all came here for a show. Some of us paid, many will
clean up when it’s over; sometimes, we find ourselves
as part of the act.

A dramatization not to be played up,
bearing down on the two-sided nature
of each and every encounter -
are we the lion or the tamer,
the bear or the bike -
sturdy or topsy-turvy,
under this big top we call Life…

Let me find you in the ring,
fire and hoops,
megaphone and suit and we are all
ready for what you have to say.
We are all here for a show ~
All paid a little bit to be here, yes, some
more than others, nothing spent on anything
less than this experience. When this is all over
we take with us what we brought and clean up
after the calamity that found us
alive.
Welcome, may we please have your
ticket
grab
a

seat.

The Other Guy – Kyle Gillis

A while back I visited Mayfield High in Las Cruces, NM. A young man approached me shortly after the workshop and told me that what I’d done by reading my “Super Hero” poem during a previous year’s visit, inspired him to write the poem below. I promised that with pride it would go up on my site. It has been far too long – my apologies, Kyle – thank you for sharing your words! 

 

Dear Dad,
I don’t know how to start this, so I’ll just go.
Growin’ up, you know,
You were my hero.
You were big
You were tough
You were smart
You were gruff;
You taught me how to pick my fights
And wage my battles right.
You said because I’m little,
You said because I cough and I wheeze,
‘Cause bones are brittle
A straight up stand-off with my weak knees,
I’d lose.

And I believed in you.
‘Cause everything you said was true.
So I listened.
So I ran.

When they pushed me down,
When in my eyes they kicked sand,
When I wore shame like a crown
On this castle of pain
I stopped.
I put down my hands and I used my brain.
So I ran.

You were so proud of me, Dad.
You clapped me on the back and called me a man.
And that felt good, Dad.
Then you told me
That you had a plan.
So I listened:
About the other guy;
He’d be bigger
He’d be stronger
He’d be taller
He’d fight faster.
And if I fought him, it would end in disaster.

But you told me–
I remember, Dad–
You said that I could beat him.
The other guy.
Because you believed in me
Because you saw in me
What no teacher ever did see–
You said you saw that I’m smart.
I’m skinny
I’m white
I’m weak
I can’t fight
But I’m clever.

You taught me to bear my bruises
Keep my head down ’till I’m out
And run when I’m routed
To out think them;
Spin them a word
So fast all they heard
Was my clever above their dumb
And I’d play them like a drum.

The other guy?
Yeah, I got his girl.
Yeah, I got his friends too.
I took them for a spin.
The other guy?
He’s nothin’ new,
Because I’ve got this,
Because what you said was true.

But now that I’m out
Now that shit home of yours–
I flew that coup.
My head is up, and without a doubt
I’ve got this.

Now I fight my own wars.
And Dad, you failed me
Because I’ve made it,
But you refuse to see
And you won’t admit
That I did it.
Dad, now you’re the other guy
And I don’t know what to do,
Because Dad, I miss you.

Scrapbook Childhood

My mom used to scrapbook
at 18 she gave me her collection.
her present, a tribute to my
time on her watch,
my father, a Marine -
Military, time was.

Spent, well-off.
Enough to never want
for that we could not
have.

Clippings -
Albuquerque Journal:
Contreras in the box score
9 points.

I think of her tired eyes
and hands, Wednesday
afternoon, lunch break, sports page
purse, and then somewhere in a box
back home.

I think I still have that
scrapbook,
somewhere in a box back home.

More than once re-located
as I have been.
Awards I won
12, 15, more than 20 years ago
at this point, still with perfect corners.
calligraphy pens
bearing perfect attendance proclamations
and otherwise.

Not too many Christmas holidays ago
my Mother gave me a box,
all the pictures that didn’t make the cut.
10lbs or so of the realization that
she clipped and collaged memories
of her children, daily.

My mother always wanted to be
a History teacher.

Now,
I can see why -
her appreciation for the moment,
an experience, caught,
captured
preserved
protected.

Her recognition
of the fact that Spelling Bee
certificates would
become one day weightless
in a world
where memories, although
beautiful,
can be packaged and
put away…
acknowledged in the
relinquishing of the clippings
that didn’t make the cut.

Maybe she never had a classroom
but I’m beginning to realize
that my process has been a learning one
all along.

Some…. days….

Some days
your figure yourself beat, before the first pitch
swing and miss at what was missing -
presently there are things that are falling apart
at the seams, and all I can seem to do is, keep breathing…
Have to.
Life figures us into the equations we can’t
remove ourselves from, additionally, it multiplies
our ideas of right and wrong – success and failure
by the way in which we approach the problem.
Solving things isn’t always the product – the process
some days, more important -

Processing slowly is not always a bad
thing – because sometimes
we end up ahead of ourselves -
so riddle me this -
what will tomorrow bring?

Wonder –

Sometimes
We wonder what is going to happen
and other times, we let… things happen…
Life happens, to be a surprise if you let it,
and surprised I stay -
ultimately life is about an experience
in the way that you perceive it -
is it not?

I know not the way I have figured
myself out, through the forrest of this
situation – but I find myself not making
a sound, as the world around me falls – down…
I continually pick up where I left off
each morning when I open my eyes,
thanking God for that simple occurrence.

Try it sometime.

Poetry, Journalism, Activism, Humanism

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