You Won't Believe Me Now
(A Personal Poem)
But one of the first things I remember is fever burning like hell
barely breathing through my clogged nose
stretching my legs as hard as I could so they wouldn’t hurt for a minute
penicillin running out of my arm because I’d had so many shots.
My grandfather shooting himself in our bathroom
I was in the second grade and they
hustled me off to some neighbors but not
before I saw him lying on the bed with blood all around his head.
Going to that damned fraternity house to get
Christmas presents I didn’t want and didn’t deserve
and knowing it was because I was supposed to be
some poor kid or something, I just wanted to go home.
My old man coming to town but not caring
cause the family was just fine the way it was
and later my mother’s health bad, her in California and
me taking that long strange bus trip solo.
And then in the SoCal cotton fields with the Braceros
thinning cotton with short handle hoes
and weeding cotton with long handle hoes
and I must’ve put 10,000 washers on those damnable
cotton picker spindles and it was 110 degrees under that tin roof.
Then JC ended my baseball dreams and it was service time
and I must’ve set back relations in Japan and Korea
twenty years all by myself and my drinking
and it takes a good 18 months to readjust when you get out.
Out. That’s where I was. Out. Out of the mainstream.
For years. Not minding it really. Having some fun.
I inhaled – a lot. Then they came for me – but not for that.
No, it was getting this hippie mother out of town, thank you.
Boulder sucked then because they didn’t like hitchhikers
who wanted to crash in their churches so they closed them
yuppified the damned place, made it clean and nice
not the place for loser vet garbage men.
Fake newspaper time, mowing the parks
an epiphany, Puerto Rico, back to school
reading Joyce under that Boricuan sun
going to Arizona to finish it up.
Goodbye academia, hello corporate beast,
there in your Tucson belly, group think
group write, let me out, Cuernavaca spring
try for rebirth south and far.
Unencumbered, unaffiliated, El Salvador,
Nicaragua, Mexico and more
pile up the moments, the words, the years
prepare for the lift off, the final escape.
Grind it out now, baby, get yourself ready,
build up the material, the sights and the sounds,
save up the money, run for the hills
crank it out, put it out, see if it sticks.
Final run at last, try figuring it out,
get ready for what, the dark, the abyss?
Accept what you did and didn’t do,
it doesn’t matter, disbelief no matter, reality is what you did.