Poem by a Washed-Out Astronaut in January

This is the season
Of maximum dynamic pressure
Of short cold days
And only light for funerals.
Throttle down, says Control.
But hell I’m still a boy;
It’s only disembodied Fate
That cleared the pad at birth
Or accelerates with height
So you Roger this, Control,
Not my choice, nor yours!
And keep your hand away from that abort switch!
Why…why…what’s with you,
Control?  I was only dropping our swing
Ladder down from old Fort Oak
Because…
Because…it’s snowed
To shake it off a bit
Or would you rather slip
And fall?  I say, I say
I saved that broken arm!
Or don’t you remember
The name of our tree house?
Or don’t you remember
Us playing war? 

Striper Tournament

A friend is dying slowly
And I’m wrung out
For words; he from pain
That never ends.
My philosophy major isn’t cutting it:
“Know this:  We’re all next.
Everything that ever lived or will live is around your bed tonight.”
But no sooner than I hang up the phone
I see I’m out of beer
And the Pantry closes at midnight
A twenty mile round trip in dark and rain
(But—God!– that teen cashier never looked more cute!)
Or sometimes I try the feeling tack:
“Believe me.  We feel your pain,
We really do.”
But what a gross presumption
On my part.  And he knows it:  “YOU–CAN–
NEVER–IMAGINE—THIS PAIN.”
Back home, two beers for guilt,
Two more for helplessness, I see
Old times night-conquering the bay
Eels on hooks, the stripers’ strike and peel,
The deep we fought and won, netted
And hoist in—until the words occur calmly
And fulfilled:  “Old friend, just another fishing trip.”
He faintly smiles, we dream.   

Delusion

All I know is that
If it’s mine it must
Be a superior thought
Or I’d say God must
Be grooming me
To be the next Dostoevsky.
Take today: I feel
My influence solving
All the problems of the world
And everyone I’ve seen
In the grocery store tonight
Knows it—they look my
Way as if they see a halo
Round my head and why else
Does the cashier card me for the
Beer I buy except to see herself
This savior by a name, adding,
With a grin, “Does this work?”
As she scans the largest tube
Of K-Y jelly in the store. 

White Supremacy

My bad:
Two six-packs of Miller after midnight
To celebrate a day’s clarity,
The perfect paganism of Physics
As on July 20, 1969.
And now:
Cursed invariable brain knot
Bed of nails, the collapsed IQ
To 58
With all its ancillary helpless visions, unmediated:
From the Haitian
Social worker handling the welfare intake
And tons of paperwork,
To the Black Muslim psychiatrist
Weighing ECT under
Jewish supervision:
Forgive my Southern roots.