Doctor, I am feeling ill; I’ve eaten all my young,
touring the coast of Africa,
going through the longboats
with a fine-tooth comb.
I’m a debutante at the Ball of Confusion,
filling fishbowls with the Water of Life,
burning the candle at either end
end of a switchblade knife.
Why do you keep following me
to take my pain away?
Don’t give me, give me anything
Just go away; come back tomorrow.
Yesterday is so far gone; I’m somewhere in next week.
Hours melt like tiny raindrops,
running down the gutters
onto Lonely Street.
I’m a candidate for mass frustration,
filling canteens from the Fountain of Youth,
keeping my hair from turning gray
by pulling it out by the roots.
Why do you keep on bothering me?
Please take my pain away.
Don’t give me, give me anything;
Just go away; don’t come back tomorrow.
For forty years I’ve sought some kind of truth
and come up empty-handed, more or less.
What dreams I held like treasures in my youth
have lost their gleam; my hands, their tenderness.
The journey has not gone as I had planned,
nor have the self-prescribed instructions been much good.
The waters beyond my small plot of land
remain uncharted depths, and what sparse food
I gleaned from these great oceans has become
like horded manna, fit for only flies;
my touch has turned rare jewels to lumps of coal.
My tongue once loose with song has been struck dumb,
anesthetized by years of speaking lies.
Now, even my illusions cannot hold.
Along the rocky shore, I peer in vain
out in the mist that crowds the twilight shore
with eyes now worn and weak, their muscle strained
from nights in candlelight. There is no more
soft music in the wind that brings delight,
nor quiet silence where I find some peace.
Each moment brings no end, just fruitless fight;
and sleep, once fitful, brings me no release.
At midnight, when the world is calm and still
and secrets are exchanged between the veils,
I stand offstage, behind the curtain’s wall
and where the footlight shadows barely spill,
just listening to others’ wondrous tales,
and realize I’ve found nothing at all.
27 JAN 2005