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
while you are incomplete
and feel strangely deceived.
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 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,
struggling against the real demons
in the arena of true meaning.
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–
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?
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.
PISSING AT THE CENTER STREET
BLUES CAFÉ’S MEN’S RESTROOM
Who rests in a restroom, anyway?
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 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