Tuesday, February 9, 2016



Smells Like Teen Spirit

On stage he looks like a flailing blonde elf
or a convulsing Hobbit
as his guitar shreds the air.
Here we are now, entertain us.
Years ago we shared stale PB&J’s
under a dilapidated bridge in Aberdeen,
fending off the advances of other bums,
getting the last toke in,
dreaming of a future where
the only thing that mattered was
then instead of now.
Kurt flips his head up, glassy-eyed,
sees me or doesn’t in the crowd,
and actually grins for once.


Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want

It was the year you liked The Spice Girls,
a year of scars and thorns,
going through your mother’s rose bushes because
that was the only way of sneaking out
without getting caught.
I never asked about your wrists,
the blood-encrusted stripes there.
I never asked about your father’s insomnia,
though I know now that I should have.
That song on the radio was and wasn’t ours,
hitting number one on your final attempt.
Blaring on my car radio now,
all these years later,
it brings up questions and crimes,
a litter of the things I never knew
but only suspected.


Appetite For Destruction

You named our son Axl,
our second son Slash.
At the concert in San Fran you got a backstage pass.
I could only look through the haze
that filled the air between bodyguards and me.
Afterward, on the drive home,
silent as a snail,
you grinned but wouldn’t give details.
We hit every red light.
A cop pulled me over.
There might have been a black cat (or two)
crossing the road without my knowing it.
In the morning, you were gone,
leaving Axl, Slash and me to figure out breakfast and
what our next move would be.



The boy had long greasy hair,
looked like a Hanson,
the cute one.
He even sang their songs,
that one, anyway.
When, off the cuff, he said,
“You go through all that pain and strife,”
you believed him,
as if these were his thoughts, his lyrics.
You painted his name
on the bathroom mirror with maroon lipstick
and carved it into the tree
that separated our two houses.
In 1999 they played that song
at our wedding as we danced,
the last night I’ve seen you so happy,
three minutes and fifty-three seconds before
I thought we still stood a chance.

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