Artists, in reference to singers/musicians who achieve some noteworthy success, release compilation albums of their greatest hits. This poem is a compilation of my Greatest Misses with the ladies. It’s nothing I’m shy about, these days anyway.
We always like to think we’re trying our best, but for most of our lives we are just not ready. And then someday, we are, by luck, we think. But it’s not luck. It took an education. It took making mistakes. It took making the wrong decisions. It took losing people.
Don’t bank on Luck. Bank on Growth. Bank on the next time being better than the last because you’ll be wiser then. You know what you’ve got to lose now.
A Second Wind
I met a girl last Friday. She had big ears, a big smile,
and she talked real slow like no one should miss out
on what she had to say. “I just don’t believe
in love,” she said. “I don’t believe in how proper
it can be when our minds are untamed
and hormones pull all the strings. Love is a
joke, but,” she laughed,” we all enjoy laughing. So much.
Too much.” And as she kept laughing something inside of me
awoke. Like a Titan, like a runner and their second
wind and I wanted to say something… to win her– but
that was stupid. The idea that you could win someone…
I nodded, “That’s real cool,” and mentioned I was running out
of beer and I walked away. I watched her
through the cut out crowd as I considered
buying her a drink too, but no, that was
too forward. I had to play it cool.
I paid for my beer and after I felt like I had gathered
enough of the right things to tell her, I walked back
but she was gone by then. The bar crowd loud
with unfiltered chatter, like a swarm of locusts devouring
a season of growth.
I said goodbye to a few friends and walked out and
lit a cigarette the way some people scratch their heads
and I kept walking looking up at the night sky,
a pixelated bolt the city let survive
in between her concrete thighs.
Breathing deep or sighing or both,
I couldn’t tell you honestly
between the fits of coughing
and smoke, I wondered about the places
she had been, the faces she had trusted,
the faces and places she still trusted.
Who did I have. Who did I overlook
when I needed something new.
Before long I found myself down the sidewalk of another
barfly trap and there she was at the end
of the street laughing with a girlfriend and my
eyes must have lingered
too long, my feet and my
breath too because she
saw me and smiled
and waved, briefly, like swatting a fly,
and went back to the wave
of conversation that I imagine sometimes often
carries on in well-lit corridors or rooms
where ceiling fans whir
away the suspense of strangers and you
talk about things like great music and traveling,
how stars aligned at the right time, once or twice before,
the end of the world, and the last Breaking Bad.
I thought about waving but she had
already turned away, and so I left,
turning around, misfortune starting to nestle into its place
deep inside my cowardly vase, a pool of courage
stagnant and muddied from standing still.
But as I walked away, something
beyond my shortcomings leapt
forward. The memory of her smile a short
while ago. And I felt small, but in a good way,
like standing on top of a precipice
where the past is small and foreign,
triangle stamps on a topographic map.
She was kind to me, and the only crime
of kindness is that it
ends someday, or grows
silent like a horizon, like an embrace,
like a wave of a hand, like a boy
who’s learned enough to know
nothing has to be said.