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

Dragged in rows by a Commercial Walk Behind Mower

All day

Isn’t it ironic that Wordsworth will sing of

Quarry workers singing as he

Wanders in his daffodils

Whitman will praise the common laborer As he loiters in the grass

The privations, the deprivations

The catalogue 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

Over 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.

To dignify the working class

Your sore knees

Must speak more than their pain—

The bills that demand this dignity

The landed idle

Still demand my money

As they loiter

In the end

I will have to forget

The laborious pain

Of achieving a place of less pain.

            Pain where?

Will I be able to forget adulthood?

When eternity speaks its demands.

SEMI-FULFILLED POTENTIALS

Pretty much my whole adult life

I’ve been more or less semi-retired

A full-time undergraduate and grad

Student and the poverty and the freedom

Writing and performing music

Writing and researching papers and theses

Bipolar disorder’s attenuated capacities

Avolition and crippled will to persevere

Those week-ends asleep in bed—

The weekend through: Friday till Monday morning

Those lost weekends

A post-doctoral funk and bad jobs

Part-time teaching and poverty

Writing and publishing a book and journal articles

Music and poetry and bad jobs

A good job preaching, a calling, and full-time pay

Recording a CD of my originals and poetry and newspaper bylines

Volunteer positions and committees and seminar presentations

All for joy and no pay

Pretty much semi-retired and all of it