Finale – Free Verse Assignment

by Ralkkai

I

I stare at the curvature of my ergonomic keyboard half-expecting it to start typing words automatically on the LCD screen in from of me.

Something Ginsberg-esque like a 30 page poem about my once-was boyfriend in 1960’s Homophobia America when we treated sexuality like boolean logic–

Or something about my times spent like Bukowski in Los Angeles in beds with whores and sore from fucking and factory work and vodka–

Or maybe I am Kerouac redesigning the haiku to fit my own stupid form because I’m too screwed up on amphetamines to count the syllables and I lost my hair and my legs swelled up from a disease I can’t even pronounce but Google tells me its an inflammation of the veins in my legs from blood clots and usually happens in women during pregnancy–

Or maybe I’m Poe and I’m married to my 14 year old cousin and I got drugged after a night of reading The Raven in a smoky dirty pub and I was used to rig the voting system and then left in a gutter where I died–

II

I stare at the keyboard and it stares back.
I stare at the screen and it stares back.
I try to look inside myself and it all goes black and my muse turns her back on me and now I’m back to where I used to be.

I stare as my poems stare back at me half-expecting them to curse my name but between me and you its all the same because piles of poems later I still have no name.

But I keep trying to rearrange and change the words on this LCD screen in front of me in hopes that some day I may write the next great thing instead of starving for the word like a beggar on the street.

I’m blasting Johnny Cash through my speakers at 8:30 on a Friday morning in hopes that it will put me in the right state of mind to try to write and get this thing out but now it’s 2 PM and my hangover is finally gone. I’ve switched to La Dispute or old Shai Halud and I’m no further along then when this poem began and I start to think that writing arbitrary words might be better than coming up with sugar- coated lines in the end.

And I think of my poems I wrote for you during these last few months after we had a fight one night because I wrote “The Jar” and I knew I fucked up and I still love you.

And you still love me.

III

And I think “you are the difference between transcending and just pretending” and we met almost a decade ago among the /high octane buzz/the digital fuzz/ of electronic noise and for a time our means of communication was through an old CRT screen-like-television.

I was strung-out shit luck looking for a job trying to make a buck. I used to own a home with some locks and some doors and I had a job where I played as a disgruntled, blue- collared workin’ man hungover from Budweiser and Adderall or Ritalin. I was just playing pretend.

I was a writer at night up in the stuffy old back room of that house on LaSalle Avenue. and I would try to pound out words on paper. I was a writer at night and downstairs in the living room everything was alright. Or I was ignorant of or ignoring the telltale signs of promiscuity in front of me. I was just playing pretend.

She wasn’t right for me in the way that cancer wasn’t right for me. But that was a lifetime ago and now I’m glad she was the one chasing the glory of the whore. I’m glad she tore my heart out and showed me I could learn to be a man.

And I travel backwards through time and it’s 2009 and you are with him and he’s with her and her and her and her. But you are trying to write your storybook ending and you are young and you don’t want the truth to be the truth; that he is scattering his vile seed and the signs are sometimes too hard to read but the notches on his headboard are clearly visible. And you are just playing pretend.

You were trying to make it work like a puzzle missing pieces or a Lego brick that’s been chewed up by the dog. But we all know that eventually reality comes to meet us face to face and our misery will meet destiny as our own destinies became synergies as we finally met face to face.

IV

We’ve come a long way from that bus terminal on that cloudy day “a rarity in Texas” you told me. 7 years later I am reminded daily of that and I am reminded daily of all that we’ve been through and all that we have when I look at you.

At one time we were the King and Queen of Camelot smoking cigarettes and watching the sun rise over a stark Amarillo casting orange shafts across buildings. And then we are lovers in Pueblo or we are eating stone-oven pizza in Lubbock or sipping barrel-aged blended sour ales in Dallas.

At another time, we are standing in front of everyone on stage. You, in a big, white dress. Me, in a black tuxedo with a pink vest and I remember I can’t breathe if I let my fat gut out and I’m uncomfortable and I try to see if your chest is rising and falling to make sure you are going through the same formal attire hell as I am.

And I whisper into your ear, “I won’t cry if you don’t.”

And I think about what’s next; We will have a family and you will knit hats on the couch while watching reruns of The Office or Breaking Bad. I will occasionally take photos/ write poetry or write code and drink Scotch in my den. We will have 1 corgi 1 cat and 2 or 3 kids and you said you wanted to raise them in the church and I said I will wait until they ask me what I believe before I consider how to explain to a 15 year old why it’s still ok to go through the motions if you are an existential nihilist.

And I think about growing old together and the news articles mention a company named Calico, who are trying to unlock the secrets to immortality and if they could come up with a pill to live forever I’d buy us each one so we could love forever.

V

And I lean back in my computer chair and look up at the LCD screen in front of me and see this poem in Courier New font; monospace so all the letters are in the right place because that’s what poets are supposed to do.

I hit Ctrl+S on my ergonomic keyboard get out of my chair and go to the front door where you are waiting for me. I hold your hand as we step outside.

I stare at you and you stare back.
We stare at the world and it stares back.
We step outside and watch as everything fades to black
and together we set the whole world on fire. And we are our own gods. We are Yin and Yang. We are whiskey and ice. And the world turns to electronic fuzz and static noise destroys it all.

And everything is right.

 

Authro’s Note: This might not be finished. I had a lot of fun playing around with this long form sort of free verse a la Ginsberg and would like to try it again. So this might be a series. I don’t want to call this “part 1” yet though. Also, the formatting isn’t correct. For the most part, each block is a single line and is supposed to be indented on the page to indicate that. WP and markup is hard to format like that so I left it as is. I might go back later and fix it.

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