Stepping Out II
Stepping Out II
I’m walking streets again,
the night time streets of a city,
in the way I walked them before I knew
young life could ever hatch out the mistakes,
or that dead ends and detours
have the knack for bringing you back
to night time rounds first set on spin.
And the years must be older if
the contrast concludes the sense.
So long as I could say
no wrong turns taken,
no first promises forsaken,
no springtime presses turned sour,
no sweet summers suffered
to walk unwanted into
cold autumn’s shower,
so long as these fingers could worry
the shiny dime story
then I could sign my name
“yours forever, truly young.”
It’s these streets again,
and walking under neon lights
of a seaside city,
walking in time to a rock n roll heart
when tonight the heart goes hurting.
And when I’m kind of wishing
it would wrap itself instead
inside the draperies
of some school of conceit.
Like maybe in poets’ company
of other dark-in-shadow dreamers
who’ve followed similar streams
of asphalt or brick,
who’ve gone the way looking for
parallel, even outlawed roads
to more natural destinations.
History manuals have them by name,
if no one else seems to.
Or not out here, at least,
where the knowing becomes too intimate,
even smacking of authenticity,
not to mention a certain amount
of soulful duplicity.
And there is no real need
to ask after these
since they are here beside me
on another narrowing street,
egging me to join in their company
in the yellow low light of another mother bar.
The wandering Goliards,
and terrible Villons,
the moon thirsty Baudelaires,
more modern Apollinaires.
Those outrageously Christ-like
livers of love and good times,
with outraged livers pickled in wine,
who’ve laughed at the masses
from their crosses of pain,
while crying in rivers
over sweet cheats kept dangling
before the same.
And it’s done no good telling them,
as we step deeper into the town,
they’ve made a mistake in tracking me down.
“I’m terribly sorry, gentlemen,
but you’ve cornered the wrong clown.
This generation, you see,
has had its complement of Christ-types,
of equal opportunity moth-flights,
of Morrisons, Joplins, and Hendrixes,
and of kings never just left alone
to leave the stage with grace.”
It’s done no good telling them these things
as we keep our conversations
out on the streets again,
the night time streets where first we met
not all that long ago.
And they’ve never actually listened
as I’ve tried to show them how
stupid are propositions
of either/or conditions.
Or how tragedy by any name,
be it Hegelian, Grecian, star stricken,
even for the sake of richer Republicans,
still like putting boys in a jungle
to fight the fathers’ battles.
It’s as if they know it all by heart,
and they’d rather try to surprise
some lovely, long tailed cuckoo
from behind a blind.
They just smile at me drunkenly,
pull closer on the cloak of poetry
and steer us inside another
rock n roll bar.
It admittedly hurts my case
to be seen with them on streets again.
And even when we’re leaving
the deep dancing and deeper thinking
they doggedly lead the way
as we’re reeling for the door.
And while walking along the bay front wall
made to slake the towny fear of water,
or when crossing the bridge that spans
the cocaine hour before dawn,
or even when we’ve turned back down
this narrowest street
like the cold and cutting sheets
turned down at home,
it becomes clear to see they’ve
kept with me inside the years;
and that what first had seemed
a passing conceit
is the earnest game, instead,
still played for keeps.
And I don’t really mind these streets,
night time streets of another steamy city,
where fast cars speed to desperate
where street people sleep beneath
where businessmen waddle
like geese from pond to pond,
where parks are haunted
by lonely men-fauns
hunting spectrals of other lonely men,
and where budding young girls
carefully lay on their charms
to carelessly make themselves
more moon-in-face than they are.
It isn’t that I mind these streets,
walking down these streets
with neon shoulders bruised and bare,
except for the indigo woman I’ve met
in whose purple night garden a dreamer
could till in dreams back under.
Oct/26/2020, 1:24 am
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