Mismatched Socks and Poor Fitting Shoes

Standing in my underwear in front of my closet,
Should I wear this or should I wear that?
Who do I need to be today?
But what if no one needs me to be anyone?
I’m lost in a sea of indecision,
Barely able to choose which pants to wear.
Without a goal I drift,
Using inquiry to cut loose false meaning in my life
Like ballast in a listing ship.
Trouble with asking questions
Of what everyone takes for granted
Is that the answers aren’t nearly as forthcoming
As I would expect from what is so accepted.
Likes and dislikes seem irrelevant
When I don’t know who
Is doing the liking and disliking
Though I know it’s me.
Do I like green pants? Someone in my past didn’t, so I don’t.
Just who am I today? Green or blue or beige?
Sometimes I give up and take a break
Because really, what is the point of pants?
Am I not more comfortable in my underwear?
Maybe I’d be more so without even that?

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Birthdays

Whenever my birthday approaches
I start poking at my life
like a kid with a stick.
More than halfway through it
and nothing is as I thought it would be.
My history is full of wrong turns
and dead ends I had to back out of.
I should’ve done this… I think,
and I should never have done that.
I don’t allow that life happens in the moment
and not while second guessing it
in a funk on the couch.

Meeting My Past

Some insights are so clear to me today
that I accept them as truths.
But only a few years ago
I would’ve hesitated
to consider them at all.
If I met my old self on the street
and we talked over a meal,
I’d consider him problematic
and be concerned for his future.
I’d have no desire to be pals
and would walk away after our meal,
relieved to be free of him,
and he’d probably feel the same.
His addictions would make him uneasy.
My sobriety would remind him
of the demons nipping at his heels
that he would soon have to face.
But he’d come up with another reason
to avoid that thought.
He’d say to himself,
that guy is quiet, that guy is dull,
and his impatience to lift his next drink
would write me off.

The Ride Down the Hill

As a kid of six or eight,
my favorite time of day
was the car ride with my dad
down the hill to the liquor store
where he was always in a good mood
pulling into that parking lot.
I didn’t know why back then,
But I did when I grew up
and learned to drink too.
The trip to the liquor store
was the turning point of my day.
Getting oiled for the evening’s clubbing.
Girls in painted on clothes.
But as my thirst grew with each year
and drinking was no longer a choice,
but kept the anxiety at bay,
the trip to the liquor store was filled with relief.
Pulling into the parking lot,
I completely surrendered to the thirst,
gave up the fight to quit that plagued me.
Not today, maybe tomorrow.
Maybe when I’m forced to.
Until then, just ride it to the edge.
“Hi,” I’d say to the cashier,
always at my friendliest with a cold twelve pack
on the counter in front of me,
my fingers tapping out a rhythm on its sides.
It was the closest to happy I would get,
just like my dad.

So Long, Captain Kirk

It was irritating but inevitable
when they traded in Captain Kirk
for a younger actor in the reboot.
Even though he was old and puffy,
and the action scenes were all body doubles,
he was my Captain Kirk,
the James T. of my childhood.
Now he’s from a younger generation
and it peeves me that they can’t
come up with their own icons
and instead reuse mine
when Captain Kirk should be allowed
to say so long and goodbye.

Goodbye, Mr. Bond

The current James Bond is my age,
or near enough.
A British tabloid posits
Bond film 24 may be his last.
He’s too old.
Time to trade him in
on a newer model.
This made me realize
that I am now too old
to be James Bond.
The little boy in me
who watched all those 24 films, weeps.
Even the adult in me is disappointed.
If not 007, then what’s left?
Should I model myself after M?

Afghanistan

In bed, prolonging the moments
before pushing back the covers.
The voice on NPR, a reporter in Afghanistan,
refers to the spring fighting season
as if he’s announcing the opening
of ski season at Mt. Hood Meadows.
I brush my teeth, minty fresh, extra whitener.
Death tolls from suicide bombings.
Toweling off after showering, it’s total US casualties,
a number that could be the population figure
of a small city. A city of dead young men and women.
The refreshing lather lifts my beard
as my triple bladed razor shaves my face kissable smooth.
Tell me again why we are there while I am here.