Ode For Myself

Lay old like cornerstones
who bear the streets
like a naked patchwork out of a
picasso creation
not the people? (though
or ride mile high waves
with fading tans
like the old lady who lost her family
(in some dark selfish corner of her mind
and dreams reality in a fading trance
of yesterdays dinner
the 99 cent Walgreens plate"
a fat waitress who cares only if her nylons run
(with the rest of her torrid body
a meatless course
a meal of thoughtless proverbs
or like the poets nightmare
to be well know before
his laid to rest
its all so meaningless
to see his tired formaldehyde face
then close the door, shovel
earth on him
he's gone but?
how long?
i scream to myself in silent voice
to miss my funeral i would give my
or see myself in the mirror
something new?
to look at again
without the same old rhymes
a thoughtless one
though trite not so
like buying Campbell's soup
from the corner White He
n or hitting Ogden avenue to make
the friday night rounds
excuse me so
for looking at darkened windows
of old love (whom still i hold with fading
heart) at 2 am
looking up at her window like to wish i was inside
warm, holding her body till eternity falling like a broken timex
and count the seconds forever
or looking at my life
though a stain glass window
only see inside
when out is nice
to count the stars without the stripes or hold
you close like dying candles in the wind
burning so forever slow
and hold you close as if to say
i could pick myself up and not feel the weight
a minute short, a minute gone
into myself alone
as if i could feel the numbness of this pen which
writes you now
in ink of course?)
or if i wish
and wish if i
could show my soul to you
a motion picture two hours long
local theatres
6,8 and ten
to bold to carry a disney hour
not so strong as to see miss chambers
unfold a scene without her clothes (as always
and ever my silence as a two dollar bill
at the racetrack i played the loser
i played myself
but losing seems not to be the thing
as winning drives through every game
undefeated as we know?
poor candles in the wind have fallen
darkness shines on every corner of my mind
like as if to say i had teeth for eyes
which is heard like my silence, like thunder
in northern california
or snow on your tv set
or fucking in your raincoat
on the coldest damn day of the year
it seems so distance
me mind, i body
or sacrilegious like eating communion bread
and believing it were beefsteak rye© why in asia
my dear
poor people starve every day
and if they had the chance they would dare not complain
of golden bear food or endless coffee
which ulcers your body
like a vasectomy at 32
when even i continue to write these words i feel
out of place like standard oil in mainland china
the pump reads 68 cents a day (one months pay
as if korea were just a block away
or russian shoppers in A&P
buying wheat in loaves of wonder bread
building bodies seven ways
or as if to think the world was a big
having a lifeless orgasm
the catholics scream
or fulton sheen a letter of his appearing in a copy of the happy hooker
or pope paul masterbating at night in bed
or peeing every five minutes after drinking a can
of old style
writing love sonnets on the restroom wall
the reading room we call
with each flush there goes
another million or so brain cells

(what does fuck you mean?

like losing your place in a book you've never read
or learning how to write in rhetoric classes using crayons
taught by professors who blow their collective nose with
toilet paper
twelve years of school
two pieces of paper
12 thou a year
a wife
two kids
a car
five days a week
eight hours a day
and on the weekend i practice biofeedback
with my toothbrush
and play guitar
on my tennis racket
to see them all
i've seen the same
is like to say that we're all insane
though it stands in theory like ice
without water
for i to say
too true
so true
how true
or even say
a puzzle of me
a modern portrait of myself

      N.J. Hartney

Circa 1972-1974