Poem: I Am Somehow

I Am Somehow

The sweet sour taste of orange fills my mouth,
ae extra slice added to my fresh squeezed juice,
floating, an interruption to the placid look
of the stuff from the can.

I am somehow, both content and restless.
A life too good for the likes of me, yet somehow
incomplete. A life examined in the night,
in the mornings, in words thrown at the wall

like bad paint. The same colors rearranged
as if the rearranging is the secret. You realize
you have never been creative. You are instead
expressive, willing to bleed a little,

in a world where too many staunch the wound,
And nearly as may bleed out, making a crime scene
out of a small drama. That’s the art in it,
not too much. Not too little.

“Moderation.” you can hear your mother tell you.
She always did, a believer in that cliche, that, damn it
is too often true. You hate it when they are right.
You always have.

You get brighter as you age.
Maybe, in your last days, you will become,
finally famous, worth mourning. How odd
that you are ready now, when it is likely too late.

You are unsure about this color thing.
this itch to become bright. New. Loud.
Is it the change you need, or simply
a delayed adolescence?

You drink the orange juice.
The slice tickles your upper lip.
You take the twelve pills that keep you healthy.
Part of you wants to dance but there is no music,

probably saving you from yourself.
From the embarrassment of bleeding too much,
too brightly. Fame is not worth that.
(You hear your mother, “Moderation”.)

You were a good son, mostly.
Your transgressions mostly in the dark,
where they would embarrass no one
except your memory.

Another sip. You pull the orange slice out.
It is too much. A distraction more than an enhancement.
You imagine what it needs. Something with color.
You give up and ask the waitress for coffee to go,

leave her a good tip because of two years
you spent as a waiter when you were young.
A good tip, and the slightest drop of blood
on the napkin where you made notes.

I am somehow, both content and restless.

About this poem.

A rarity for me, a poem about one thing. The last line. But even when things are singular in focus, there is a cast of thousands, a history, behind them.

The painting is a detail of one of mine. It might be hard to imagine, for those who know my art, but I used to be a black and white guy. White walls. Pen and ink drawings, often mine, on the wall. Something happened when I moved to Vermont. In this drab little state, I became color.

And now, thirteen years later, I am that last line. What do I become next? Stay tuned, I tell myself. Life is nothing if not a mystery series, with a cliffhanger at the end of each episode.

And a drop of blood.

Tom



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