John the Baptist
walks into a bar on Forty-second Street
and orders a Perfect Manhattan . . .
everybody gets the joke but me.
It will rain today in sympathy
with the wrong crowd—you know
exactly who I mean but
I don’t: it rains for me.
I slip in the bath tub
and bang my head hard. The sign
on the Pearly Gates reads, “_______,”
and besides they are padlocked.
Wouldn’t you know it? Just
when I’m finally feeling like myself
again, an old me is at the door
demanding to be let in.
“If I told you once, I’ve told you
a hundred times,” I shout through
the keyhole, “I am the master of my fate.
I am the captain of my soul.”
I have run far today, fast,
and I am miles from where I stood
wondering into the distance,
looking there. How dim
seemed my furtherance then.
Tomorrow is another day,
but it will be the same day.
I will stand and wonder
at the distance I am to run.
And I will run. Miles.
One day, maybe soon,
you will find me panting
on a door step, maybe yours.
I will be further along
than anyone thought possible.
It will be a good place to rest.
The day is turning to dust,
interiors brighten, stir.
Inside are the aging widows
of men like me who ran fast, who ran far.
Clark Holtzman lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His poems here in 2River are from his in-progress manuscript The Fool’s Alphabet, a collection of 70 poems arranged alphabetically from A to Z. contact