These poems, likely the last I’ll ever write, were written while I was in prison, years 2007 to 2016. The first is my favorite of these; it was written to be part of a novel, a novel never likely to be finished because it isn’t good. I’m hoping that the lack of context won’t make the poem unenjoyable.
I’ve had a real headache with this document, trying to get the formatting to match that of my Old Poems, but I think it’s correct now. The WordPress text editor is unbearably crude or else I just haven’t figured out some basics, like single versus double spacing.
Out of Touch
I see myself in her, this girl of six,
Her dirty fingers grubbing in the dirt.
A yellow car putt-putts around the mound
She calls El Rocko. Crumpled foil must be
The motor home that stands where once my house
Burned down and killed the devils, Mom and Dad.
That must be right ‘cause there’s the hill behind us.
The laughing girl is whirled away by wind
While I hold down my hair to keep it neat,
And shun the rain that is her seldom joy.
I haven’t touched the earth since I was six
And now I don’t know how without her help.
Am I not a child of this age of rage?
When, how, why did the earth grow strange?
Men fight; flies bite.
Which is the worser plague I cannot tell.
Some things we make knock down the gates of hell.
Oil’s might, earth’s plight—
A billionaire has bought the last gazelle.
This is the time that civilization fell.
My father died when I was ten:
A core meltdown of grief;
But in a week the numb began,
A flood of cool relief.
The Sweet Spot
The moist, smooth, tender flesh,
Meltingly soft, achingly warm—
One kiss stops my final breath:
The white mouth of death.
A rumbling low in the belly,
Clawing upward through the guts
Tearing the heart and windpipe
Sticks buzzing in the throat until
A tiny poem is coughed into the hand.
I remember a bee in a flower
Or maybe a bumblebee
Rolling and drowning in pollen
An enviable ecstasy.
The world weary dead march to oblivion:
Funeral flowers, bone-white faces, E.D.’s fly abuzz.
Yet I have two hours left to do some good before the end.
Yet I have a last chance to grasp what I can reach.
I dare not predict what I will choose because I never yet chose rightly,
But once I counted pennies with a child.
Dogs are handsome, dogs are fun,
Dogs lie sleeping in the sun.
Turn a palm up, feel a rain drop,
Looks like we’re gonna have some heavy rain.
Watch his eyes now, see the tears drop,
Daddy’s dead, now life is full of pain.
Joy will return, lad, keep your chin up;
He won’t be back, your prayer is made in vain.
Hug your Mom now, be a grown up.
But a boy must be a boy—it’s not humane.
I hate your God, Sir, God’s a fuckup.
I guess I’m gonna smoke some Mary Jane.
I see my future, in a sweat shop,
Or a bed among the violent insane.
A Double Death
My father died when I was ten, I never saw him go.
A bitter thing for boy so young to lose a father so.
My mother and my brother cried but I wept most of all;
Was my love great or were my tears the easiest to fall?
We went into our separate rooms, each lone that drearest day;
Without a hug you ease no hurt, that sure was not the way.
With knees on brick I prayed that day, an unaccustomed thing,
I prayed with sobs, I prayed with tears, I did not feel their sting.
“Dear God,” I prayed, “Oh please give back, give back my Dad to me.”
Then bitter certainty slapped my tender face.
I was alone, my prayer unheard, in that beloved place.
Six decades long ago that was; I say that no one knows
How man from boy is shaped and marred by fateful hammer blows.
We learn and change; what once was sure will someday seem absurd,
But never will this one accept that prayers are ever heard.
“There is no God,” I’ve often said, “I learned it long ago.
I felt no presence, never have,” so now I say, “I know.”
Copyright 2018 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved