I was outside smoking behind
Parkview Place with my iPod and Diet Dr Pepper
making a vain attempt at relaxing when
my young homeless destitute writer buddy
came up to the fence again to bum a cigarette
so I turned off the music and got up at length
and brought my pouch and papers to the fence
and tried not to touch his fingers
during the major COVID transaction
and he's been so quiet and in a trance
I even earlier at first thought he was a ghost
and I'm such a dolt I took it literally
when he said he was looking for his family
because now I can apply the several
that have a lot to do with hippies and vampires
or really anyone with really big eyes
like a social worker who paints on the side
but I tell you I have a good heart
and remember all too well what it was like
turned loose into the boarding home
where the literal and the symbolic merged into one
so he's talking about someone
who will take him in and teach him
how to reconstruct the ego because now he's living
in the unconscious and it's clear he's given everything he's got
and ought to be some spectacular genius or rock star
and what exactly separates us
because why do I have a domicile and struggle
for peace and put on Enya and write
and say things straight out with no patience for any criticism
and once too was radiated by the universe
and heard the same call walking away
and able to hear whispers from a hundred yards behind me
without one dull scholar who could understand it and I am thinking it's not enough
to say we're on different sides of the fence as he rises up and puts his arms
in the air and walks over to the circle where the stoners sit like an errant god
and damn I haven't made that move since the observation room in 2001.
Something terribly wrong has happened.
I think I’ve become pure.
Oh God, now I’m going to have to
counsel people and shit. I’m going
to have to relinquish all my possessions.
The Lightning Hopkins CD! And the Mahler!
I’m going to have to leave behind
the dusty old flag in the corner
they gave me at my father’s grave.
Now I’m going to have to view the Beatles
as a foolish teenage phenomenon. Well,
I already don’t have a car so that’s cool.
Shit! Am I going to write platitudes?
I swear I didn’t do this on my own.
I was always looking at beautiful people
over coffee at Starbucks. My ridiculous claim
was that it was more about aesthetics than lust.
So I guess I’ve been proven correct.
And now God has done what I myself refused
to do. Nothing can stir me.
I should have seen this coming
when I kept referring to sex as
an inordinate waste of time. But still,
I was somewhat interested. Now I’m dead.
Now I’m really really dead. I wanted
to be famous but now I’m going to be famous
for having been ripped apart in a Bacchanal.
This is awful. Imagine the weight on my back!
I’m going to be just like Supergirl, no, Wonder Woman.
All my third-grade daydreams are happening.
There are going to be drunks coming
out of the woodwork for advice. People are going
to want to know what to do at work.
It won’t matter whether I’m tripping out or not.
I’m on the clock! But what about my own
drunken escapades and horrible utterings
from decades ago? I’m not worthy to say a damn thing.
Please let me loose. I’m weak. Send me elsewhere.
Matthew Freeman is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently Ideas of Reference at Jesuit Hall (Coffeetown Press) and the chapbook Exile(2River). He holds an MFA from the University of Missouri—Saint Louis and is active in the poetry community. Find him on Twitter: @FreemanPoet.