Ramble with me through the insecurities of the writer’s life.

The Glow From Either End

Two events came together for me tonight
and I can’t get the juxtaposition
out of my mind
It’s been circling there, gaining altitude
in swirling updrafts, fighting my resolve
to bring it closer, make it land
I should be a little drunk for this,
it’s really smoky bar-room conversation,
blurry as the third drink
But we’ll try to make the best of it, you and I,
because we’re friends
and we’ll  pass the bottle back and forth

The first was Esther’s slightly blitzed rambling,
that really wasn’t rambling at all,
but a truth she held out shakily
More than that, a power of truths about me at least
and my usually agreeable,
ometimes disagreeable isolation
She kept asking is anybody hearing this,
is any of it getting through at all,
this public display of my life and my art?
Yeah Esther, it gets through to me
and maybe others here as well,
but who’s to say how it fits for each of us

The second, a journalist looking for a twenty-minute
fix on Prague, blathering about whether
it’s really the Paris of the nineties
Noticed that I didn’t fit the pattern, a gray-haired guy
among all these young aspiring writers
and how does that feel?

I mumbled indistinctly about just doing the same thing
from the other end of life,
but I gotta tell you it’s uncomfortable,
this question about which end of life I’m living
Something I hadn’t thought about,
brought up by a stranger and I can’t shake it

Juxtaposition, that’s the point I meant to make,
a shock to my system these two sides
of one question all in a night
Esther’s is this getting through to anyone
thrown up against why are you doing
this sort of thing at this time in your life
All kinds of flip answers come to mind
from not self-aware enough in my twenties
to ‘fuck off stranger, I’m busy’
But the question caught me cold, wouldn’t go away
and the closest I can come to answering
is because I am you

I am you with gray hair, as good as the best,
bad as the worst, wondering if we’re right,
or need to be, or if it matters anyway
I get owly, just like you do
when I’m not getting laid enough
and spend too much time owly,
chasing fractured chips of thought
I get scared just like you do, about the money
and sometimes get too isolated, welcoming
the time alone, but wondering
if someone will come along in time to shove me anything
that floats, a couple of bucks or a warm smile
or hands across my back

There was a young woman in the park today, exotically
beautiful with a wide-brimmed hat,
shoulder bag and a confident, striding walk
Came right at me across the grass, holding my eyes in hers
and glad to find me, like a friend she knew
and wasn’t it grand to see me there
Passed me and sat down, not ten feet away
to smoke and read
I expected that direct look to ask me if I knew the author,
would like a cigarette
Too shy to start a conversation, I left, but there was this
pull not to leave, to know her story,
that we were lifelong friends, un-introduced

And so, like Esther, I wonder if my life gets through
to anyone out there, if shyness is the universal thread
that makes a writer conjure words
So we won’t pass each other in the park, but sit
and find the pieces of our lives that fit and bind them,
with no more effort than a printed word
To paint and sculpt and craft a life that satisfies
a sense of worthiness from either end
of that burning candle that’s our lives
The flame is just as bright from this end as from that,
and most of the striving is just the search for a match
that’s not too damp from sweat

Poetry Collection: Broken Pieces
This poem is included in
Jim Freeman’s
poetry collection
available here in print
or as an e-Book
in your favorite formats.