Regarding the Poem About the End of the World

This started out as a poem of my prediction for the end of the world.
It was full of good intentions nevertheless.
It moved in a flesh and blood world but had these contacts
with Biblical prophecy and ancient soothsayers.
There was to be much strange weather in it, raining ducks
or swords and especially references to the shapes of
clouds, a buxom gray and red atop the vanishing waist of the horizon.
No one would be loving in it unless they were about to lose that love.
Nobody would work because what would be the point of that.
There would be families but only as a sub-plot to the real
family—the one flake of matter that would survive,
float through the universe, an accident waiting to happen,
teaming up on some distant world with the survivor of another
astronomical holocaust, a propagating fool, ripe and ready
to get it all going for the next go round.
There was to be this pithy chunk of philosophy to
end the thing on, not as dark as you’d imagine,
kind of humorous, a joke told to the nothingness,
just the incentive to at least keep something going,
to wait around for that laughter.

I think why that poem didn’t get written was because a tiny speck
of the way into it, I could already see how it was going to end,
and I figured if I know what’s going to happen, then the reader
knows what’s going to happen, and there’s no need to write the poem.
I’m already living with it. They’re already living with it.
I returned to love, that old standby, figured how much
I’d miss her if I wasn’t around to miss her.
And there was my job, more eternal than eternity and
what a joy it would be if the world blew itself to bits
and took every terminal, every stapler, every in-box with it.
And, of course, relationships too, all of the horrors, the excruciating pain,
and what a blessing it would be if there was a way to break it all down
and begin again fresh as a new world.

In other words, I wrote the poem I was going to write anyhow.
But, instead of ending it with the violent explosion and that hanging joke,
I worked back from the punchline, found my way to here.
Biblical prophecy? Ancient soothsayers? Bizarre weather?
No, I just asked a man what kind of day he was having
and he responded, “One very much like this one.”
I must confess I didn’t see that coming.

At the Birth of My Tragedy

I’m with Nietzsche on this one.
Uneasy lies the Apollonian crown
when Dionysius is forever at the gate.

I tried to live behind the curtain.
But the outside did me in.
And even that I couldn’t see clear.
The forests misted.
Streams ended abruptly in waterfalls.
Neighbors had a daughter roughly my age.

Head in a book or ensconced in music—
that was no safety net.
More like inviting the devil in.

And I figured the creative mind
would be the perfect shield.
Sure, invention put the real thing on notice.
But then reality kept pointing out so bluntly—
I can actually happen.
And then, you really want me to happen, don’t you.

I was like a strict conservative
suddenly laid off from the job he thought
was his for life—a socialist by the morrow.
Expecting the same, the same,
I was sidetracked by days of unnerving newness.
I thought that, no matter what,
I could cool down and reflect.
Instead I heated up and didn’t know my own mind.

Passion was part of it, anger too.
Greed, I confess to. And jealousy and impatience.
Every vice actually. Every feeling likewise.
Now, I’m like an artist,
dissatisfied with his own work,
but gratified to know it’s really selling.

The Shopping Cure

Her sister assured her
that shopping was the answer to everything,
so she’s on her way to the mall,
pocketbook fall of credit cards.
She laughed at her sibling’s words
but listened anyway.
Pretend you’re a millionaire,
that was the advice she took.
Like your old boss.
Or really go for it.
Make out like you’re Donald Trump’s ex.
She turns the radio up loud as she
pulls into the parking lot.
She wishes “Thus Spake Zarathustra”
was playing though she doesn’t know the name,
just the dramatic entry music.
No more responsibility.
No more husband in another state
who won’t keep up his child support payments.

She steps from her vehicle
to the snapping cameras of imaginary paparazzi.
Her walk to the door of the first shoe store
is accompanied by silent but enthusiastic oohs and ahs.
Once inside, she fondles this model, that size,
even tries on a couple,
plants her feet before the mirror,
sashays them all ways
like her ankle is a swan’s neck.
That’s the peak of her day right there,
the moment when anything is possible.
Some boring stuff that she realty needs
leads to back and forth bickering
between her Mastercards and Visas
as to who has room to accommodate
another fifty bucks.
On the ride home,
she feels like a queen banished
to her own house, her own weary life.
She calls her sister to thank her for the suggestion.
She finds her home as always,
says, “Maybe you should go shopping.”