Originally posted 12/22/2008.
Each of us is a vault of moments,
a bank for remembered scenes.
Poets eventually spend all that they save,
and I am one — or rather, have been one,
for from this moment on
I refuse to pass my mysteries out
like so many stray pennies.
Let it now be someone else’s turn.
Yes, there are times
when it comforts me to think again
of the way her hair felt
the first time I touched it;
times when it seems important to recall
what it feels like to press
the point of a hunting knife into my chest,
adding a quarter pound of pressure with every breath;
I could still make them real
for anyone who asked,
but could anything I got back
make giving that away worth my while?
So much that I saved from youth to now
has ended up on stages, was spent
for others’ amusement, was traded for glad hands.
What has it ever gained me?
Just grant me now, at last,
my hoard to hold for me alone.
Let me count my terrors and my ecstasies
in my own time, sitting up late at night with them.
Lord, how I wish I had been
less profligate with these
when it would have been wiser
to keep them close.
If I can learn
to be tighter
with a memory now,
I might yet be happy.
I could get a job where no one will ever ask me
about who I was, where I’d been,
how I view the search for meaning,
how I got here.
It’s none of your business,
I will say if they ask me.
Write your own goddamn poems,
that’s what I’ll say.