Farewell.

This morning I had breakfast
While looking at the sea –
Everything was easy
Everyone was gracious and kind.
This afternoon, I watched a bus driver yell at a tourist
Who’d pushed the wrong button on the bus.
At the conclusion of the exchange, the bus driver walked away saying,
“You try having that beeping in your ears every day, all day.”
The tourist said, “You could try to be nice.”

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I stay too long.

This has never been my fault.
At least not to my knowledge.
I’m much more likely to leave too early –
To pull up my stakes
Just in time
To shake the dirt off of my roots
And dance off into the sunset.
I once quit a job two weeks after I started
(for me, that was holding on, I wanted to leave as soon as I arrived)
and when I told my boss, he said, “Alright. Get onto your horse and ride.”
I was a cowboy hero
Making a grand exit and even the man in the black hat
Knew it.
But like a cowboy, I didn’t really have a home –
I was more at home moving and when I stopped
I had to figure out how to stay
But I have yet to stay
too long.

But here my father comes.

No, not this time.
He won’t make this show.
Or the one before –
Though he did come to New Jersey that time
To see that one
I was so unsure of.
There are shows
That I wish he could have seen
That one across the country
The one on that Tuesday
But this time, I don’t mind him not coming.
Perhaps it’s because I don’t mind
People not coming in general, this time around.
I used to measure friendships and love
According to who turned up to see my work.
It was a kind of emotional blackmail for ticket sales
Either turn up to see this thing I made
Or I will take you off the list of my heart.
I don’t do that anymore. I won’t. I can’t.
People who want to see
Will see.
Here will come the people who could make it this time.
Here will come the people who can.

O, fear me not.

Aren’t we always only ever giving advice to ourselves?
Sometimes, recklessly. I have given someone counsel
That crossed a line
Because I believed it so passionately for myself.
I wanted him to find a better way
Because I so desperately wanted a better way for myself
But he already had a voice
Whispering to him to find that better way
Mine only pushed him further into the shadows of fear and stasis.
If he were to have said so
To have pointed out that truth to me.
I might have deflected it simply.
If he’d offered up the truth
I might have flippantly said
He had nothing to fear from me.

Youth to itself rebels through none else near.

An aphorism that never took hold – tried, though it might.
Imagine, a mother in a house coat and curlers
Shaking her head at her moody teenage daughter
And bemoaning ruefully these words.
Ah, that old saying!
What is youth rebelling to itself?
Youth rejects its youth
And starts wearing cardigan sweaters
And combing its hair in the middle
While watching its soaps on the TV
Before taking its meds, and
Wishing its grandchildren would visit.

Best safety lies in fear.

Fear, like a straight jacket,

Will certainly keep you from actively hurting yourself

Or the people and world around you.

It can keep you from running

From dancing

From singing

From getting booed off the stage.

It can keep you from loving

And lord knows that’s a good way to be assured

An avoidance of devastating heartbreak.

Certainly, certainly, let fear keep you safe.

Arms tied to your body

Never reaching out

Never holding anything to your chest

Never letting rhythm or melody

Steal into your limbs

To wave them or shake them

Or beat them on drums.

It is very safe

To sit very still

Letting fear keep you from harm.