Life of the Party

On the two
apart occasions
that these words
were applied to me
as a label for what I,
regrettably for my labelers,

I felt stung
in a news-to-me,
to the point of failing
to consider their accuracy
or whether this might
be something I want:

to embody
a quality
so formidable
as to be describable
only in terms of its opposite
in a snide phrase.


If I could draw,
I’d draw a rendering of my mind,
the typical picture of which,
a kind of bicycle helmet made of oatmeal,
is no help to my understanding
of its workings.

I’d add an arm tentacling in
to poke through
both the resolved
and unresolved past,
dislodging a few sentences
I may not have disowned enough
or condoned too much.

Then that comber arm
would rake up memories
of times I was scorned,
the kind I get lost
in thought about,
slamming my face
against my disgraces,

a serial self-batterer
whose brain functions
less like the seat
of any processes
promoting dignity
than a filthy Thames
from which nothing healthy
ever surfaces for sustenance.


Being ill’s
a little like
having had
a bad childhood,

memory and your ability
to correct or forgive it
like the first day
of an antibiotic

with its promise
you’ll feel better soon,
but right now you need
slapping with a disclaimer

that you’re not yourself
and apologies for wanting
to sleep in the middle of the day.
Then the pills kick in

and you wake up feeling
stronger, sorted, well,
mind wiped clear of cloudiness,
body no longer like a car

with the windows shut
in summer and no AC,
taking yourself in like
a piece of good news,

a recovery so full
and fast as to put
a bad childhood
simile to shame.