Green Hills Literary Lantern

 

Still Crazy

 

When I was sixteen my mom sent me to the shrink because I threatened to kill myself.  I hadn’t thought of how because I didn’t really mean it.  It was just a way of getting some sympathy and getting out of my responsibilities at school. It was a way  of being a cracked egg instead of one that was hard boiled.

 

Oh, it was fun to think that I might be crazy.  I felt superior to the sane varsity kids in their do-good sweaters.

 

When Vietnam came around I was called in for a physical.  I convinced the army   doctor that I was crazy.  Like I had to be crazy to avoid getting my legs shot off.  Like I was nuts to love life.  Like I was inferior for recognizing that war is real and for keeps and I wanted to keep what I had—my legs, my  arms, my lips, my brain.

 

In jail I convinced the shrink that I was manic depressive.  I don’t know why or how.  He gave me some lithium.  I threw it in the garbage.

 

When I got out after two years I felt messed up and went to a shrink who said that I was manic-depressive.  He put me on lithium.  I have been on it for fifteen years and love my wife like a peaceful piece of rye bread, like a bland snack. As the homeboys say, she is butter baby.

 

I’ve had a lot of experience with semi craziness.  It makes me feel important.  I like feeling different.  I like the possibility that the mental institution is right around the corner when it isn’t.

 

Label me whatever you want.  The labels don’t stick to me.  I am not short pants in a camper’s valise.

 

 

 

 

 

Eat Up

 

So you gave a lot and then a little and then there was nothing left to bring home in your doggie bag from your dinner with me.

 

So I munched on the disappearing scraps,

Kissed you like you meant it

And tried to resurrect your indifference

Into a splash of passion.

 

It’s not that I feel your indifference but I feel that it is sometimes there like an abscess in a tooth or absence from a grammar school class.

 

I need what you’re not offering but I know that you haven’t completely taken it away; it’s just that your attention isn’t locked in on me when you cast a sideways glance at my fish in the pond.

 

Thanks for staying in the neighborhood of my friendly persuasion like a movie screen that has dropped down on my head.

 

Is that popcorn or your teeth

Cracking on my fingers

As you try to bite into the knuckles and meat

Of our relationship.

 

 

 

Then and Now

 

I have done a lot of good and bad things but I don’t remember any of them

Unless I focus on my forgetfulness

And pull a tuna

From the ocean of disappearance.

 

I don’t want to remember them.

The past is sad,

Escaping away from me like a shadow in the footsteps of the night.

It is the tablecloth I pull out from under the Baccarat crystal and the silverware.

 

I have done nothing.

I have never existed.

It was all a lie.

I have made up my  past so that I could have something to sit on

Like a whoopee cushion.

 

I would rather bang my head against tomorrow like an igloo.

I want to tell the Eskimo that it wouldn’t be right to screw his wife.

 

I am always leaving yesterday behind.

It doesn’t follow me.

 

I go to the literary market place to sell my tuna.

It is no longer there.

 

I am tomorrow’s memory of what might have been caught on a fish hook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Lawrence has published over a thousand poems. His latest book, Lane Changes, came out in November 2007 from Four Way Books. His documentary, "Boxer Rebellion," about his boxing career, played at Sundance Film Festival. Just before launch, David wrote: "my new memoir, The King of White Collar Boxing, has just been published by Rain Mountain Press and is available on Amazon.  It covers my turning pro in later life and ending up in jail for tax evasion."