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Monday, September 12, 2016

acoa

The Amazing Bob wrote this poem in 1989 – it was a time of enormous change and struggle. His first marriage had crapped out and he’d become a single parent – one with a tiny paycheck and no child support coming in. His first and greatest priority in life was to make sure his son grew up happy, healthy, whole and loved. He did.

We’d been keepin’ company for a few years and were taking things slow and steady. We loved each other and walked softly, carefully, tenderly so’s not to fuck up a good thing. We didn't.
~~~
acoa

I grew up alone
    stayed out as long as I could as a kid
    or hid, hoping to avoid the terrorists in the kitchen
    who highjacked my childhood and held it hostage
    for endless payments of alertness and responsibility

I grew up scared
    listening to Jekyl and Hyde take hate for a ride
    during nightly explosions, screaming their
    sound and fury while I cowered under blankets
    signifying nothing

I grew up quickly
    while parental disapproval sifted down like Agent Orange
    defoliating the 100 Acre Wood and Sherwood Forests
    of my imagination until Maid Marion got a gig
    as a cocktail waitress and Winnie the Pooh would
    stop for a brew on his way home from the factory

I grew up suspicious
    practiced in the art of reading vocal inflection
    and facial expression, expert at tracking emotional erosion
    in poker faces, proficient at staying just beyond reach
    of my father’s backhand, my mother’s manipulation

I grew up functional
    sweeping broken glass from morning-after floors
    patching up doors slammed in punctuation the night before
    being useful, being useful, covering up reality,
    keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut,
    appeasing the angry gods of my volcanic family

I grew up practical
    watching predators pounce on dreams, lunging and snapping
    visionary necks on streets of maturity littered with the
    corpses of fantasies, and so I learned to put up a front
    like a neon sign in a package store window:
    splotches of color, splashes of light
    siren songs in a lonely night

I grew up sweating
    in minimum-wage neighborhoods
    where men gambled, drank and fought
    cars got burned and votes got bought
    where women compared notes over sweatshop lunches
    looked for sales and rolled with the punches

I grew up compulsive
    with a genetic attraction to the anesthetic properties of alcohol
    since life is blues and dues are simply what we pay
    since love might be just one stool away
    and if relationships fail, I could always steer
    for oblivion

I grew up hangin’ out
    on corers, in poolhalls and clubs
    with romantic loners and losers with ambition
    bookies, B&E artists, ex-cons, hookers, musicians
    in neighborhoods where the only cats with a vision of the future
    rode towards it in hot-wired cars, and if silence was golden
    I grew up with the Midas touch

And yet here I am
    trying to extend my emotional range
    struggling now with risk and change
    new tricks to learn, old bridges to burn
    exploring gender and re-scoring the soundtrack of my life

Still here
    with my fragile belief in the miracle of laughter
    the possibility of love
    the breaking of silence
    the healing of wounds

So I’ll sing a song of freedom
The best way I know how
Become aware of who I am
And feel it here and now.
~~~
And here I am on another Monday, 70 days after The Amazing Bob shuffled off this mortal coil and I just, honestly, don’t know if this is survivable.

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