Existentialism for Dummies

Even some of what is tied down is not permanent.
Erosion and raccoons see to that.
Some things change
but take so long to do so that watching them
would cost you changes in yourself.

Some are only noticed
when you look away
and look back,
your sister after five years,
the old neighborhood with new traffic lights
and street lamps on Hamilton boulevard.
Does anyone walk on Hamilton boulevard?
Are they trying to keep people longer
or prevent more from coming in?

Medical students can’t hang out with their friends
without noticing what’s wrong with them,
english majors without correcting
them every time they do somethin’ good.

Now that your way has failed
they want to show you the other way,
the Frosty path of complete abstinence from everything fun,
from Rummy Bears and the welts of late night horseshoes,
from confirmation that, yes, they do put the handcuffs on too
from the tattoo across your chest with your last name misspelled.

Change is made up of elements no one wants to look at,
complete surrender and the acceptance that you are not ruined,
you just got on the wrong bike,
you need the curb to get on and off
and you keep tripping on it.

Honesty is the first principle
of the first step of your new path.
Ten pages for your resentments alone.
Where they disagree is pride.

Personal Appearance

“Dear Reader,
My nightmares are your confetti
so you may step over tiny skulls
like a satrap among un-housebroken whippets.”
-Dean Young

You have to be considered good at what you do
before you are allowed to break the rules doing it,
especially in poetry and basketball.
No traveling or skipped commas until you’re somebody.
No Jordan crossovers.
Here I am,
combining two different flavored packets of oatmeal
like I’m allowed to,
– but when is one considered good at eating oatmeal? –
reading Poe when I’m drunk
McCarthy when I’m not
and Hicok and Hoagland for all those in between times.
No one packs a headache like Clan MaCgregor
or a nap sack
– did I say that right, nap sack? –
like your grandmother.
How you see things depends on how you see yourself,
just as how others see you depends on
how they see everything about you.
Whitman could convince everyone he was their tongue
but you? You have to earn it.
I almost forgot about you,
the way you forget the audience of a eulogy,
your dreams but never your nightmares.
Are you the one who saw me once before?
Made eye contact but looked away,
like I did?
The one who said
you could be somebody if you
didn’t hate everybody, especially yourself?

My speech to the crowd is perfect
until I open my mouth.