I don't want to share anything with you,
I want to be alone late at night,
I want to drink until I'm dry,
I want to make secret journeys down the dank streets
where married men don't venture,
I want rooms of clinking crystal
and appreciative smiles,
jokes tumbling from my lips
like silvery grunions
slapping in moonlight.
I don't want to carry groceries in from the car,
groceries I will never eat,
go for endless walks that take us nowhere,
rub your back when mine is killing me,
I want to sleep forever under sparkling snows and dream of ballgames and girlfriends
and the years of goodtimes
before this dagger snaked its way into my breast,
I am afraid of waters and doctors
and the look on your face when you are in trouble.
I want to undo everything, erase my assent,
irradiate my sperm, run off to a nation that is beaches only,
that welcomes heels and celebrates desertion
and whose official flower is the beget-me-not.
And yet ...
to be father
of this melon thing in you
with all its sweet red stuff, and seeds and rind,
is a grand endeavor, and I see plainly in your eyes that this is your wish
and because I am your slave by heart
I accept the full penalty, let them come,
let them swarm on me like ticks,
I will bounce them and change them
and wipe them clean as if they were my own
and all the while knowing
where once there was life
is now only children,
and the windblown fluff
that was once my hide
is all that remains
of a boy who loved to play.
Artwork and Poetry © Mike Finley
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What advice would you give beginning poets?
Robert Bly liked being surrounded by younger poets, and they benefited from his presence, but every now and then he would get irritable and tell them all to go climb trees and leave him alone for two years.
When you are young is when you are drunk on art, and full of desire. And desire makes art but is also its number one enemy.
How do you tell some intense young person that the very fire that makes them burn is also keeping them from growing?
Let me suggest:
Hate yourself – don't think you are necessarily great at this. Don't think there is anything special about making stuff up. You're this far from being very pathetic.
Love yourself – the world has been given to you to live in and observe. Strike a balance. Live, observe. In the end, only you will know the sound of your own voice.