Tag Archives: reunions

High School Reunion Musical

Someone told me once we never grow
beyond the point we turn the age eighteen:
what insecurities we carried then
still manifest themselves throughout our lives.

That makes those speeches every June
(you know the ones that say life’s just begun)
much more than naive lies, and still the truth:
depends on just how much you would believe.

I wonder if it’s like the weakling boy
who overcomes his limited physique
by spending endless hours in the gym
to change the image in the mirror,
but never runs quite fast enough to flee
the sickly shadow he would leave behind.

Could be the “eighteen” theory’s full of shit;
What would the world be if we never grew
beyond the high school notions that we held
to be so absolute and crystal clear?

A playground laid out on a global scale,
with territories marked in black and white,
a constant “them” and “us” dividing up
the haves from the have-nots, and so forth.

We must evolve.  I’d like to think we do,
although it often takes ten years or more
to come to terms with who we thought we were
(in contrast with what we had yet to prove).

How many of us reach the other side
with anything but memories left alive?

14 SEP 2009

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What did you expect here in the space above my name?
The golden boy you never thought I was?
Redemption for some lost and lonely cause?

Guess you’re right to wonder about who and what’s to blame
From nothing, a great nothing came to pass
And left just me behind as epitaph

Yeah, there’s money in the music business for a chosen few;
If that was all there was to it, I’d be a rock star too.
But somewhere down the line I dropped the ball, that’s what they say,
and figured out I wanted just to play.

What did you expect, some tale of glory found and lost?
Still waiting for that ship that never came,
Bad weather and coincidence to blame.

Guess you’re right about me, but I understood the cost
of learning how to sell it for a price;
and losing what I thought was paradise.

Yeah, there’s money in the music business for a chosen few;
If that was all there was to it, I’d be a rock star too.
But somewhere I lost interest; reality got in the way,
and I learned to love the hours that I could play.

What did you expect, a price tag hung on every song?
They came to me for nothing, after all.
It don’t seem right that they should have to crawl.

Guess you’re right, my talent’s wasted and my life’s gone wrong;
But these old songs are proud to be called mine;
go write your own, become your own John Prine.

Yeah, there’s money in the music business, if you shake the tree,
and wait around for it to drop, it comes eventually;
But in the meantime, don’t lose sight of where you are today,
and do it simply ’cause you love to play.

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The Wall

There is something in a family that doesn’t like a wall
inside the boundary it constructs, its face against the world,
that thin veneer of solidarity presented to conceal
or pander to the social mores ranking its esteem.

Behind the bastions of normalcy, its main concern
is making sure the single units pretend to conform;
and in that monitoring, it wants no separate, secret lives,
accepting only hesitantly strangers from outside.

Each strained reunion of the brood is subject of concern;
and any bricks laid on in private are quick set upon
with sledgehammers of guilt, and picks of hinting, sly reproach,
each proud attempt to isolate examined and destroyed.

Against this force of silent judgment, one who would be free,
seeking an authenticity outside accepted norms,
must toil in dark and secret, lest their labors be discovered
and hung, a warning pike along the outer fortress wall.

The separate self the enemy the hoarding family fears.
And so with subtle sabotage it works into new bricks themselves
the shale of doubt, and shunning stones to weaken each new plan
until in desperate surrender only the whole survives.

And distance, what is that to it, that reaches beyond time
across the generations, fingers clutching, like ivied vine
that resists even violent axes to grow back anew
and cover each new wound, and scar, with uniformity.

Its cry to arms is “Unity against the gathered hordes
that seek to infiltrate and then betray us from within,”
and with that xenophobic fervor fights to quell, subordinate,
the individual desire to reach outside its grasp.

There is something about family that doesn’t like a wall
within its defined boundaries; it challenges the whole.
And each new member must accept their assigned sentry role
or despite years of effort, its well-maintained castle falls.

27 MAY 2004

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Declining an RSVP

We have killed two decades with our lives;
Clocks and pocket-watches, notebooks and meetings
have spoken to us in the language of Ur,
a Babylonian-Chaldean moonmist frenzy of words
and tired metaphors.

In twenty years you’d think I might’ve found
some calling, or at least a claim to fame,
instead of still wide-eyed, casting around
without reknown or fortune to my name.

But life is how it happens, more or less;
the roads you travel lead to different ends.
To me, the truest measure of success
is measured not by wealth, but by your friends.

Now, I have made acquaintances and lost
their names and numbers; others I forgot;
for memories too accumulate a cost,
and keeping all means more space must be bought.

It’s not as if I don’t have extra cash to spend
(though extra is a matter of degree)
but rather that I try to live now, not depend
on sentimental hopes or history.

Right now, they’re meeting in some suite —
those people that were my old high school mates —
and rather than by their standards admit defeat,
I choose the world that is, and trust my fate.

For what is it they want, some way to reminisce
while failing to acknowledge things have changed?
That window to the world that no longer exists,
and peering through that dark glass seems so strange.

I cannot walk a backward way, and seem to not have grown;
the world from where I came holds me no more.
Besides, in this new place I am not here alone,
but have a life that is worth staying for.

20 AUG 2003

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Looking for patterns in things

If I can find a repeating pattern, a repetitious rhythm that pulses underneath the warp and woof of my life, it is that each time I reconnect with my biological family, it becomes necessary to wipe clean the creative slate and start over. Every time I encounter my mother or brothers or sister in the flesh, it is as if my creative spark sputters and dies, and must be carefully and diligently kick-started back into being.

It used to be that on principle, I would drop acid every six months or so (when I started dreaming those technicolor, wide screen dreams again) and that would stop the nocturnal picture show for a period of time. During the time when the dreams were banished, I would create, feverishly manic out of necessity. For the past three years, however, that has not been required – I can do it without the drug, now; but it had been that long since I saw my family.

Now, I’m losing track of my train of thought here, but shall continue anyway. The bottom line is that these reunions always make me feel small, as if I had never started anything, as if my past were the only thing relevant (not the present or the future), and that comparison with my siblings makes me feel unaccomplished, unnecessary, unproductive. Not that they are really doing anything with their lives, except working, eating, sleeping, raising children. But a prophet, they say, is never accepted as such in their home town. And the spiritual quest that I am on is so far beyond the scope of their understanding.

So why is it that each time we meet, I have to spend weeks or months getting my self back from some mired, mucky limbo? Is the pattern of my everyday life so set, so predictable that this familial jolt disrupts the very cycle of my being? Or is it like that for everyone? Because family is one place where they knew ya when you were nobody. And they seem deadset against letting you forget it. The veneer of respectability, of civility, of cooperation and mutual well-wishing seems so cracked and worn, so victimized by the steady onslaught of chronology. If I wrote an autobiography and sent it to my family for review, would they even recognize the subject? How could they? I’m sure they would be agast at the pathways my journey has discovered, and they would long for the small talk I have lost the taste for along the way. Are all families so petty on the surface? Does the pettiness seep deep into the very marrow of a family’s corporeal self, permeating the core with dysfunction? It all seems so false, a sham, a palimpsest against which the writing of truth is faded and peeling.

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