GRADUATE STUDENT

I left my idealism somewhere

Back in early manhood, apprenticeship

For getting by only.

My knees hurt

Not like they did before, to pay the bills

Walking behind a power-mower

All day

 

Isn’t it ironic that Wordsworth will sing of

Quarry workers singing as he

Wanders in his daffodils

Whitman praises the common laborer

As he loiters in the grass

 

The privations, the deprivations

The catalog of things to do without

Logged into my bitterness–

Formerly an occupation–I try not to be bitter.

 

I read Hemingway to buoy my spirits–

His Catholic poverty in Paris,

His un-Christian feeling of superiority

To the vague wealthy.  I guess I feel superior

 

Or try to feel superior to buoy my spirits.

The indignities,

The fear as I lie to a bill-collector,

Slough subordination,

Try to feel above it all.

While the town keeps me down.

 

To dignify the working class—

Which I am now and a grad student

And the town keeps me down—

Your sore knees

Must speak more than their pain—

The bills that demand their “dignity”

The landed idle

Still demand my money

As they loiter

A WELL-LOVED LIFE

I treasure the measure allotted me, perhaps
Because I have known
Want and bitterness
Admittedly, self-imposed pursuant to
Higher education want and bitterness and isolation
The currency I’m currently earning renders
Me middle-class, statistically, actuarially, actually, without apology
I can buy my heart’s desire, for my
Wants and happiness
Are within grasp of my middle-class
Earning;–yearning not for all the world:
Some art, a guitar, travel to distant parts
On occasion; means for an artistic avocation
Wants and happiness
Gifts of a middle-class
Earning—living out my learning
Through a life well-lived, well loved life

Life Is

“You’re going to have a hard life,”

My boss told me, in my 20’s

I’ve had dreams crushed, my heart broken

But who hasn’t

I’ve lived impoverished a long time

I didn’t feel it as a Harvard student

When I got my Ph.D.

I was worse than impoverished, deeply in debt

And I felt it

I’ll likely never get out of debt

I wrote and published a book

When I was poor

I lowered myself to begging a few times

Was relegated to the back seat of a lot of cars others owned

All the while I played and wrote music, poetry, lyrics

 

Some people live a comfortable life

To them, a good life

But shit happens, even to them

Some people are rich and complacent

Some people are very rich and dedicated to acquisition

I have known a few years of comfortable middle-class

And bought expensive art prints

A piano, an amp, guitar

A couple crystalline rocks

I travel places with my partner

 

My life has been hard at times

And I have known accomplishment, and contentment, and bitterness

I have no regrets