High school poetry revisited

Joan Concilio |

It’s like a bad movie… spending high-school mornings in the computer lab, banging out bad poetry that I was so sure was amazing, surrounded by like-minded and equally socially inept friends. There’s much from that period that isn’t worth salvaging, but I can’t quite part ways with this one yet.

It still features some of my favorite phrases, and it’s really a tribute in weird words to the people and things that paved the way for me between awkward teenager and slightly-less-awkward adult.

In particular, it’s my chance to give a way-too-late tribute to one of my poetry lab friends, Fred Smith, who took his own life shortly after graduation. The best of the words here were Fred-induced, and I owe him more than leaving them in a dusty binder. (But any groan-inducing turns of phrase are all mine.)


An anti-heroic poem of epic proportions

Surrounded by distance
Time and space fly hand in hand,
A useless flight of fantasy
For anyone’s dreams but mine.

Life of ecstasy,
The store-bought tranquilizer
Of cheap clothing and fast food
Nothing to no one – but needed.

Ending of beginnings
Unreality of finishing
Sinks in as I open the door
And walk in, outside.

Waiting to remain
Change: The root of all evil
Takes my world away from home
Black holes appear where reason orbited.

Call of the world
Yes, you want this! Throws me.
Dynamic equilibrium is disrupted,
Then restored too quickly in momentary disfavor.

Rotation of life
Around my sorry axis that is as yet
A penitent parolee hooked on delirium
Of the simplest variety.

Train of thought
Derailed but not distracted
Saved by an interstellar ego transport
And a crossing center punch.

Who am I?
To say that I have lived so many lives
A world measured in thousands of days,
Yet never, on another plane.

Consciousness defies me
And I step up to the ledge behind me
Supernova of absolute reality
Positive or negative, X.

Soul-defying wonder
Of an optimistic pessimist who can only be
True to life at heart and soul
Sold out by a sobbing crowd.

Cowed in seclusion
Tricks one can play on those who taunt them
Possum but not, for when I come alive again
Claws find scathing, seeping wounds.

Who is like God?
No one in this aching world of bottle dreams
And translucent cue-ball lies
Omission: The silent sin.

High-octane weapons
Launched with the ferocity of desperation
That only a saddened soul could muster
Make a crisis your placebo.

Happiness in misery:
A paradox of profound proportion
Cop out or sell out, it’s the same
Precious declaration of pyrite value.

Who is like you?
An outreached hand that jerks away
All the worse for what it almost brought
Promises that vanish with your presence.

What noble uncertainty?
What yearning of the world is worth
The loneliness of sameness?
Brave new nothing.

Club-hopping menace
Biting through your saran-wrap society
What should I fear?
Not you; my own righteous rage.

Uniqueness precludes excellence
Mindlessness and placation, your claims to fame
Life without value costing millions or more
Supremely unworthy of pain.

Ignorance is stratified
Multidimensional in its naïveté
So rare and precious in our green-house world
Falsified virginity of thoughts.

What manner of disdain
Has brought you into this unexpected rendezvous
With a fate that has the face of rage
Rolling a new life, prohibited.

For what reasons
List them, itemized for deductions
And who exactly did you think cared?
Recall: They laughed.

Don’t ask why
Those who do are marked
Red pen of the gods, striking out self
Open a page and bleed.

Inklings of a joke?
Do not mistake the sarcasm
That hides the too-real fears
But no open honesty here.

Whose dreams these are
One dares not guess for fear
Of recrimations, you are reprimanded
Eternally branded – ego.

Awakening is new beginning
A freshness of desires soon to freeze
And a vanishing point of chances to change
Worth nothing but expended effort.


I’m pretty sure that wasn’t supposed to be the end. I’m just as sure that 30-something me is no better at endings (literary and otherwise) than the me of half a life ago. I guess I’m also a work in progress.