We look for love

like a drunken sailor

rummaging through a footlocker

for a pearl oyster.

What shall we do with a drunken sailor?

The needle is buried in his heart.

The haystack is on fire.

e of humor and like to laugh.


A broken heart is hard to fix.

It’s like trying to mend the Venus de Milo

with a jar of Elmer’s glue

or raising the Andrea Dorea

with a pulley and a jack.

Jack is the best name possible for a man.

He is tough and kind,

a good friend and a bottle of beer.

Jack has a scar on his face

he never talks about.

Jack drives a battered pick-up

with his arm around a young woman

and a stray dog in the back.

I drive a rusted out Plymouth

with my arm around a young dog

and a stray woman in the back.

My heart is a broken pot.

It would need to be melted down to clay

to make it whole again.


Everyone else is happy.

You alone in all creation

have been left out.

Even as a child, the other kids

knew the rules to the games

and found out early where babies came from,

and laughed at jokes you didn’t get,

and sang the words to songs

you couldn’t understand.

They knew by secret signs and codes

everything you did not.

Now, they are grown

and satisfied,

while you are incomplete

and wounded

and feel strangely deceived.

No, wait.

Against stupendous odds,

the chances, say, of getting hit in the face with a fish

while climbing K-2 with a kazoo in your pocket,

you alone are happy.

You have been given the secret,

the awareness,

the peace that passes all understanding.

Everyone else wallows in the pig-sty of indulgence

or fries in the desert of denial,

leading lives of unquiet undesperation,

while you, my friend,

are blessed,


struggling against the real demons

in the arena of true meaning.

No. Wait.

You are neither blessed nor cursed,

you are pretty much the same as everyone else,

you work and worry and eat and carry on

just as people do in Bangladesh or Akron, Ohio,

and pass the days clutching and scrimping.

Years go by;


And then you are old, my friend,

and wonder on what day you will open the newspaper

and find yourself in the obituary:

“He slash She was born in 19blank blank

and died in 20blank blank

and never knew what was going on.”

You fear that death is the end

and that life has passed you by

like the blur of a lighthouse in a kaleidoscope

and that you will never figure it out.

You know that no one

has ever figured it out,

but that news comforts you

like a glass of water

to a drowning sailor.

We are all on board the Titanic,

arguing about whose turn it is to play shuffleboard

or who deserves the larger stateroom

or whose deck chair this is

or whom the wine steward likes best,

when we all should–

well, what?–

try to reach our travel agent on the wireless

to give that nincompoop one last piece of our mind

before this boat goes four stacks down

or wonder if there really is enough dark matter in space

to pull this whole damned thing back together again

or sidle nonchalantly toward a lifeboat?

But no:

we would rather act cool going down in the middle of the ocean

or act hot going down on our girlfriend slash boyfriend

or act stupid getting drunk in front of a roomful of strangers

than ever to say,


I don’t know where this tub is going,

but it sure is a hell of a ride.



Who rests in a restroom, anyway?
I don’t.
All I ever do there is piss.
All I’ve ever seen anybody do there is piss.
Who wants to take a shit in a stall without doors?
I don’t.
I guess they’re afraid we’ll engage in homosexual activity.
I wouldn’t, even if the doors were left on.
I just want to read the graffiti.
One says: “ ‘God is dead’—signed Nietzsche.
‘Nietzsche is dead’—signed God.”
Another one says:
“ ‘To be is to do’ —Socrates
‘To do is to be’—Sartre
‘Do be do be do’ —Sinatra.”
A man pulls in beside me.
We avoid looking at one antoher and instead
comment on how bad the urinals stink, which they do,
and how much ass we’re getting, which we’re not.
I make ready to leave,
tap, stuff and flush,
when my eye catches more handwriting:
“Want a blow job?” it says,
“Call Sally at 751-0924.”
I could use one of those, I think to myself.
But would she really do it?
And who is this Sally person, anyway?
Surely not the Sally I knew in sixth grade.
Doubts creep in.
What if she turns out to be a guy in drag?
And how did she get in here
to write this in the first place?
Distracted, I catch my penis in the zipper.
It hurts bad. Biting my lip,
I read the top of the urinal
on whose smooth, shiny, wet, white porcelain surface
is stamped: “American Standard.”
Hey, I think, is this supposed to be
some kind of sarcastic comment
about the state of American culture?
or American education? or American craftsmanship?
We’d better not tell Lee Iacocca about this!
The man next to me rubs his hands
under a trickle of tepid air.
“You don’t buy beer,” he says,
“you just make it bio-degradable.”

Poems by Peter Wolf, Southbend, Indiana

Lady Roselyn @ 2011


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