This is Not a Poem

This is not a poem
Real poetry has always eluded me
People occasionally said
I had a way with words
It was all bullshit, though
I could never compete
Scholastically or physically
But words were one game
I could successfully fake
I was adept at mimicry
I became proficient
In your vernacular
You could call it articulate
I call it intuitive guesswork
I’m not a sociopath
I just test well
I can pass for human
At least for a while
By the time you figure out
I have nothing original to say
I will have burned that bridge
And written you a poem
To venerate my shortcomings

8897 Hz

The ringing in my ears
is 8897 Hz
the dubious gift of a decade
standing in front of amplifiers
in empty clubs
living in a dream
impressing no one
killing time
like most things I wanted
it turned out to be meaningless
another lesson that taught me
what I am
and what I am not
now the noise keeps me awake at night
a low-grade background hum
like radio static from some distant catastrophe
that left no surviving witnesses


When the Asians moved into Reagan Country
everyone’s small town prejudices came to the surface
Suddenly words like “gook” and “nip” were tossed around casually
“Will the last American to leave Orange County please take the flag”
bumper stickers appeared on our parent’s cars
One day in PE my friend Stuart threw a rock at a Cambodian kid
I thought he was too far away to hit
but Stuart scored a headshot
and dropped the kid in the dirt
I thought it was fucked up, but you were expected to back your friends
no matter how stupid and cruel they were
Of course no one saw anything, and we carried on playing
while the Cambodian kid was carried to the nurse’s office
Two years later Stuart killed himself
Another headshot
Completely unrelated
I wish I could find that Cambodian kid
and tell him how things played out