My little boy inside
(as predicted by books)
is sad under clouds and
I will punish him
for not growing up
and out of me
I have no external children
and must practice bad parenting
in order to be fully myself
in order to achieve my potential
I am a very bad boy
I am a much better adult
and will be an even better old man
a splendid grouch
with more memory than context
while abusing my inner child
Someone take him away
whatever you like
just put him in the system
I’ll only be right
when he’s been thrown away
I know certain stories so well
I can fall into them anywhere
so the torn up, crayoned book
whose only intact pages
reveal the blond in the bed
and the three confused bears
is as dear to me now as it was
when both it and I were new.
So turning on the Manson docudrama
at the moment of the Tate murders
was not disconcerting; I at once began
to hum Beach Boys and Beatles songs
and think about that harem of blood
and remember Snake Lake, Diane
by birth, the girl from Spahn Ranch
I met briefly years later who was still
as cold as the memory of Cielo Drive,
and to wonder where Linda Kasabian
was now, does she ever listen to the band
that bears her name like a grisly hipster badge,
the name that means “butcher” in Armenian
though she never raised a knife to anyone?
Did the name take her to the Family
as surely as any story takes its reader
to its end? I don’t even blink listening to this;
where has this story taken me since I first heard it
on the news at age nine?
What has it inured me to?
I don’t even need to watch it to see it.
I don’t have any missing pages to comfort me into denial.
The one question left:
why did the bears
not tear Goldilocks to shreds?
what’s supposed to happen?
In the hands of a virtuoso even a decayed instrument, ignored for years, attic-bound,
can make a music strong enough to bend walls.
I don’t claim the title for myself but my age being its own reward and punishment at once,
I live toward the words maestro and virtuoso as if they were mine to use.
I am aficionado
I am waiting
What do I call myself now when, with my instrument all but played out,
I cannot help but seek a clarity in the use of a single string?
I am obsessed with the hunt
I am forsaken
I’ve been told that nothing made on the single string is performable,
but here I find myself facing an audience who expects performance.
I am the impression of you only
In command of the single note
and — of course, now I see! In command of the silence around it.
I am aficionado
I cannot stop this
Am no virtuoso
Can one perform silence? On stage, now, I do nothing.
The audience expects something. But what could replace this?