You don’t have to pick a side, kid-
everyone’s out to get you.
You don’t have to pledge your life,
your faith or your trust.
Just keep your healthy cynicism,
look for the ones who stand to profit,
eye them all up and down,
friend and foe alike.
Everyone has allegiances,
everyone has closets;
pick and choose but remember-
never pick a side.
She said take two
when you’re stressed
and let me know
how that works
But I get so down
that I take three
or four or five
One time I took
the whole bottle
and I showed up at her door
in a panic-
“What’ll happen to me now?”
So she gave me gin and tonic
and she told me not to worry-
“It’ll all be over soon anyhow”
She peeled back the label-
they were candy after all!
and I haven’t worried much
The treetops were listening
that night when you promised
you were finally getting out
The day the small crack
in your heart
and you bellowed-
the stars heard then, too
Every long night
when you argued with yourself
down long empty streets
with the windows rolled down,
and everything in it
and took note
of the fire in your soul
You stare at blank pages now,
you think it’s lost-
the passion you had,
the importance you felt-
but through every moment
of struggle and doubt
the universe waits for you
You don’t make friends- you find them. I’ve only ever had a few in my life, but when I found them I knew immediately. There’s a sort of intimacy, a comfort which is felt like a blanket around two strangers who automatically fall in step- they can speak without fear and find joy in discovering all the ways that humans can understand one another. It ends up feeling as if you’ve already known the person for a very long time.
It’s a rare and wonderful thing to find a friend- someone whose intellect, maturity, and decency you can trust. Someone who gets you in all the best ways. Once you find them, there’s no going back: their company becomes indispensable to your own happiness as the more experiences you share, the more you are bonded together. And gradually, their happiness becomes indispensable to yours, like an extension of your own well-being. Protecting their heart becomes your responsibility, because it’s part of your heart now, too.
But like all good things humans are ever blessed enough to blindly stumble upon, we don’t know how to keep a friendship once we’ve got it. We grow complacent and expect that it always will thrive, maybe because we didn’t do anything to earn it in the first place. We underestimate how much we’d suffer if we lost it, because we just don’t think it could happen. But perhaps worst of all, we get selfish.
Humans have an odd tendency towards ownership- we see something we like and, instead of appreciating it for its beauty, we like to slap stickers on things and say “Mine.” This tendency is extended to our friends: we want to be best friends, we want to know that you like us the most, we want your word that you’ll always be there, we want labels, we want assurance. The funny thing is, the best part about friendship is the sublime level of trust that can be achieved, but there’s no chance for that when you’re holding on too tight. I have been guilty of this far too many times not to know the devastating consequences of squeezing the life out of someone you care about.
Miraculously, true friendships seem to have a tremendous bounce-back rate.
No man can tamper with a tether,
no weather can temper its rest.
You are my tether when the winds beset,
you are the strength I love best.
A tether in the tempests is a treasure
I’d no method to catch and possess,
but you are a measure of heaven,
the tether with which I’ve been blessed.
Now do you believe
that we are never-ending,
that we can speak across the universe
in the language only we know?
When I had counted you gone
but could not feel right
without writing your name
on the first page,
and you had counted me gone
but could not feel right
without opening that book
to find your name
do you believe it’s been long enough
to prove us blood?
When I wrote though I knew
you weren’t reading,
but I couldn’t help myself
and you knew that I wasn’t
writing for you,
but you couldn’t help yourself
do you believe we are eternal,
long-lost brother, do you believe
in sibling souls, do you believe
we could’ve been found
any other way?
It’ll be written with guilt and not at all,
everything I wish I could write to you,
a thousand lines in a teardrop
wiped away before bed again.
In the morning I stand on the front lines,
proud to battle on,
and I don’t know if it’s guilt
that keeps me there,
but it certainly helps.
Was it me that killed your voice
and stopped the wrestling,
or was it just a side effect of ever after-
is the fire withheld from me
or is it gone?
Y’know I never meant to let you give up that easy,
but maybe I’m the only one who needs to fight.
And so I carve your name in every conquered city
as for a dead comrade who should’ve had that chance,
but I don’t even know if you’d have wanted it,
if you’ve got better things to do with all your time.
And the guilt that I could write about believing
that it had anything to do with me at all
is a companion to the fear that keeps me moving
’cause I don’t want whatever thing
it may have been.
Because if happiness picked off the greatest brawler I have known,
my fate is sealed to fight for both of us alone,
so that everything I could ever wish to write to you
must be written, bound in guilt, and not at all.
Don’t forget to check out my first anthology, Candy Pizza: Poetry that’s Fun and Healthy, available on Amazon & Kindle.