Fuck the Dead
I woke up and forgot how to write a poem
and decided that writing poems was stupid.
I couldn’t think of anything to love
and decided that love was stupid, too.
I went outside and the streets clanged with loneliness,
the people dulled and drunk with suffering;
some blatantly so, others
going through the motions of hiding it.
I decided that suffering was stupid because it was useless,
more useless even than poetry,
and I suddenly felt outside it all, bigger than
the living and their hand-me-down sufferings,
better than the smugness of the dead.
Fuck the dead and the living alike, I thought, what
good are they to me?
I wandered through it all like some stillborn ghost,
a thing unto myself, inscrutable and alien,
but within an hour I was tired of that,
so I fell in love with the next useless thing I saw
and wrote a stupid poem about it.
The Way You Cry for Things Beautiful and Gone
In truth there’s not much
I believe in anymore
but I sometimes go through the motions
like how we still try and be beautiful
in the few perfect hours
we stuff down our shirts
when the managers aren’t looking
the way we still try and be pretty
as we wait for the next disaster
to find us in the places where we hide
it’s a game we play to pass the time
but it’s not like back when joy
would lie beside us in the grass
like a great gentle beast sleepy beneath the sun
these days we hunt it down like vampires
we drain it and nail it to our walls like
a trophy to show our friends
and I’m writing this down
in an Italian cafe on Columbus Avenue
a man at a nearby table drinks wine
and watches girls, just as I drink wine
and watch girls
and the jukebox plays Italian opera
sad and beautiful like so many things
I can’t understand
it makes me want to cry
the way you cry for things beautiful and gone
and now that some wine is in me it’s easier
to cry for things, and I remember that the sad dumb beauty of everything
was made for us after all, we just have to let it
into our hearts like music
and now Sinatra’s on the juke and he’s got the world on a string
as a pretty black girl in a leather skirt walks by
and the man at the nearby table grabs the waiter and orders
more wine and I trust in his wisdom and do the same.
William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including The New York Quarterly, The Chiron Review, and Catamaran Literary Reader. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and An Age of Monsters, a collection of short fiction. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. To Break the Heart of the Sun, a new collection of poetry, is forthcoming in 2016 from Words Dance Press.
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