13 November 2009

The Stress Song of J. Alfred Prufrock III

Originally published in Clockwise Cat.

Everyone knows what I should do.
My grandfather thinks I should find a new career.
My minister thinks I should come to church.
My boss thinks I should spend more time at work.

Splintering carnival lights,
blinding colors of a rotating, suffocating world,
a beam across my nostrils,
outward stretching fire.
Spindles of desire.
My wife thinks I should spend more time at home.

It’s not the major crisis that will kill you, the death or lost exception
It’s the stress of unfulfilling the endless expectations.
It’s the bouncing baby boy--
changed to the bouncing of the ball--
changed to the bouncing of the lover--
who must earn the grade.
It’s not the glass ceiling that binds my flight
as much as the glass walls.

My neighbor thinks I should paint my house.
My friend thinks I should paint the town red.

I am Stanley Kowalski ripping his shirt,
Miniver Cheevy masking the hurt.
I am every man who internally rages,
a thousand brains in a hundred cages.
Only idiot children read my pages.
I am an overdue book.

My television thinks I should eat.
My physician thinks I should lose twenty pounds.

The explosion I make--
not a bang
but a whimper,
less eruption than sneeze,
the plastic collapsible dagger
aimed at the world--
scares no one but me.
In the presence of mine enemies
I lay out Chinet®.

My mother thinks I should call more.
My brother thinks I should live my own life.

And should I scuttle across the floors of silent seas?
Do you want me to scuttle?
I’ll scuttle from chatroom to chatroom,
the one night cheap hotels of an introvert world,
electric sawdust filling my nostrils,
smudges of kisses across my lonely screen.
In truth, I have no name,
just a glory in my shame.

My attorney thinks I should remove all references to other people’s poetry.

Freud thinks all people want is sex.
Adler thinks all people want is to belong.
I think all people want is fame,
rocking back and forth in a darkened corner
cradling and nursing our blogs.
Maybe we all agree.

My blahblah thinks I should blahblahblah….

There is a fear we all have…
direct from Ecclesiastes…
a fear that one day we’ll wake up
and no one,
not even our shadows,
will really care.

Seedlings were planted in the park today.
I wonder if they will see the sun
enough to grow.

May I rest my head on a multifoliate pillow.
May the ceiling fan blades cut out the sound of
their thoughts.
May I feel the hollowness of my belly
rising and falling as
a lullaby is hummed , miles away.

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