[I’ll write more about last night’s amazing poetry event at Cleveland’s Literary Cafe in the near future, after I get caught up on a few other things.  For now, I’d just like to share a poem I debuted there.  Namaste….]

Jesus Crisis, Thursday 14 August 2008 at the Literary Cafe

Identity Crisis

I don’t want to be anyone but me
I just want to be all I can be
Until I can’t be
Know more
A pure and enduring shooting star
Until it’s time to say sayonara
And ciao

I don’t want to be King or Prince
But in another way I do
Since I have a Washington Monument
Full of dreams
Musical schemes
And I know very well
What it’s like When Doves Cry
But I don’t have a clue how to answer
The Question of U
(I’m pointing to myself here, too)
And I wonder why it’s vice versa
Instead of versa vice

I want to be from the country
And I want to be from town
I want to be the Nowhere Man who
Wherever you go
You find around

I don’t want to be Allen Ginsberg
Except when I’m Beat up
Which is most of the time anymore
Though I don’t really believe
In time anymore
And belief in time is such a chore
When Corso Kerouac Cassidy and Burroughs
Are my constant companions

But at times I get terribly tired of feeling Beat
When I’m On the Road less than I’m on the commode

I want to go Furthur than Kesey
But I don’t want the cuckoo’s nest
And I know why the caged bird sings
Though I’m not sure about the rest

Maybe the birds and their songs
And our rights and our wrongs
Are all Maya
In a multitude of hues

The colors run through me
Like a rainbow in an oil slick on an Elyria street
Running through the halls of Marion Correctional Institution
On the eve of the new Millennium 
While I watched the 2000 fireworks across the world
From my cell 
On PBS all night long
And I wonder
How it’s possible I’ve never been freer
Never been more of a seer than there

And I want to be that free here
Find perfect vision outside of prison

Like it was in the years before and after Bush
In between the ears before and after religion
Subtraction and long division
Before and after I was a Skyline Pigeon
With no clue who I was
Or who you were
Or who we are

Maybe I do want to be Ginsberg
Or Kerouac
Coleridge or Kant
St. John of the Cross
d.a. levy
Martin Luther King, Jr
King Tut
The kid in the cheap seats eating Junior mints
Wishing he were purple like Prince
Or green like the US Mince
Finally infatuated with the friendship of Peppermint Patty
And earning the love of Lucy
And Desi and the little red-haired girl
And Fred and Ethel Mertz
And Pigpen Jerry Garcia
Che Guevara Citizen Kane
And Linus without the line
Or the lie

I don’t want to live in vain
I want to be like Steven B. Smith
Michael Salinger
A .44 Magnum
Not just a Derringer
Johnny Cash, Johnny Carson, Gary Larsen
Tearing down Bergen-Belsen, Washington DC
Garfield and Odie, O.D., and Oh Die
I want to give Peace a chance
But be able to accept that War
Is her partner in the cosmic dance
Accept that both are lies
That nothing in the universe is left to chance
And yet in another sense everything is
And “there’s nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so”

But what do I know

I want to be Dostoevsky without the crime
And especially without the punishment
Have freedom without the army and the government
And I’d sometimes like to choose
The Karamazov I prefer
And refuse the others
Pretending one brother is better than another

But I know all too well
That we’re all all-four Karamazovs
We’re all Kazantzakis,
Who said “the doors to heaven and hell
Are adjacent and identical”
And I think they might be the same door
There might be only one door
We all look at it like blind men looking at an elephant
One grabs the trunk and calls it snake
One grabs the leg and calls it pillar that will not break
One grabs only a whiff of the tail end
And calls it P.U.

But what is that elephant
With the incredible memory

It’s Steven B. Smith
And the firth of fifth
It’s Ray McNiece and Tolstoy’s War and Peace
It’s Donald, Dianne, dreams desire denial demerol
The doomed and the Divine
It’s juiced up Roger Clemens saying
Look Babe I didn’t share my cigar
With Jose Canseco or Andy Pettite
It’s the heavy and the petty
Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt and Mario Andretti
Racing toward the grave
Slaves of the thrill and the almighty dollar
Kerouac Corso Ginsberg and Burroughs
Delivering us from literary squalor
Bush and Cheney making us holler
Whitman and Dickinson
Clinton and Monica
Dylan with his harmonica
Clapton and Hendrix with their guitars
Jay Leno with his classic cars
Venus and Mars and Pluto
A big black hole
And a supernova
And so unimaginably much more

I don’t want to be any of it
I don’t want to be Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton
John McPain
Cheech and Chong
Kennedy Nixon
Mason Dixon
K-Fed, A-Rod, Brangelina, Britney or Bono
Or do I

I just want to be me
But what is this “me” anyway
What am I

I don’t want to be Kipling,
Shere Khan Genghis Khan
An ex-con
The naked Nagasaki bomb bleached Japanese child
The so called whore in the so called Nazi Joy Division
Or the so called Not-See in her
I don’t want to be the caged bird
But I want to sing
And I want everyone to listen to my whistling and chirping
Until everyone’s bending
And maybe only pretending to listen
Which is probably all they were ever doing in the first place
Pretending to hear

And me too
Though I try like the Devil not to
I pretend to listen and then wonder what I’m missing

Maybe the whole shebang is a lie
Mighty Maya,
Caged birds, songs and all
Because how free can we really be

How free in the land of the penny pinch
And the US Mince
And poetry turned know-it tree 
Or no-it tree

It’s all bleeding like a sappy lie
Sticky sweet
Through the crimson streets
And in our futile funk
We tap the trunk
Try very hard to refine or define the goo
Yet it’s totally true, too
All too real
And there’s nothing more real in this whole ordeal
We call the universe

It’s all illusion
It’s all allusion
And it’s all there is

Kurt Cobain said “All in all is all we are”
But he did not believe it
Said the gun
And if there’s no fun in the pretense
If there’s no joi in the vivre
Then we might as well leave
And maybe someone who sticks around will be happier.

I want to be Faithwalker
And sight walker
Oblivious to and aware of every hurdle
I want to be Theresa Göttl
Stretching the window from out of the desert
To be like Hansel and Gretel
Eating their gingerbread house 
And being tasted and tested but not consumed
To impress all the chaps
And even perfect bound books
Like Larry Smith and Mark Kuhar
But be the Top Dog
Deeper than Cleveland
Like a Jim Thome homer back in the day
Finding its way to the bottom of Lake Erie
And beyond
To be professors like Howard Ellis, Timothy Leary 
John McKenna, Helen Shepard
And the Good Shepherd
The innocent shepherd boy blue
With the sheep in the meadow and the cow in the corn
And a Satchmo horn that I can blow like Miles
And a free pass to get me through
The most expensive turnstiles
And the aisles and aisles and miles
Of poetry in your eyes

I want to be like my wife Geri Lynne
Like my mom again
Like my grandchildren
Like my dad
Like my dear old granddad
But without the nasty Nazi tattoo o
n his hand
I want to maintain a bad boy image
Without having anyone mistake me for bad
To keep them from messing with me
Without keeping them in fear
And maybe then I won’t be so sad
Around here

I want to have a certain semblance of madness
To infuse and inspire my art
But I don’t want people to take me too seriously
When I appear to fall apart
Or think I’m really mad except in the most brilliant of ways

And I guess that what I want most these days
Is out of this daze I’ve been in
Since God-knows-who knows when

I’d like to be able to start again

I want to know who I actually am
And to be it
I want folks to see it
Really see it
And not judge it and hopefully love it
And be what they are and love it
And I’ll love it too

You know there’s a part of me that thinks I’m really you
And yes, you’re really me
And if we could just open our egotistical eyes and see it
We could love
And maybe love would be all we need after all

And I don’t think things would get too terribly boring
With all this love and no warring
As long as we didn’t all live forever
And overpopulate the earth
To the point that we suck her dry and
Destroy our chances of living at all

But we’re doing that already anyway
And I wonder if our birth and being
Really complement the earth we’re seeing
Or condemn it

And while we’re feeling up the elephant in the room
Blind as bats and batty as Babe Ruth
We mistake the lie for truth and truth for lie
We swallow maxims like an eye for an eye
And wonder why we can’t see
Maybe there is nothing real or untrue
But thinking makes it me 
And makes it you

I suspect I know all too well
That we’re all Karamazovs
In handwritten Russian heavens and hells
Kerouacs jacking off
We’re all Mandela and Frederick Douglass and Crazy Horse
Stephen Biko and the Velvet Underground and Nico
Zorba the Greek and Nikos Kazantzakis
Who said in The Last Temptation of Christ that
“The doors to heaven and hell
Are adjacent and identical”
I’m willing to bet my chances at either-or
That they might just be the same door
That there might be only one door after all
And we’re all pretending to see it
Like blind men looking at an elephant

One grabs the trunk and calls it a snake
One grabs the leg and calls it a pillar that will not break
One grabs only a whiff of the tail end
And calls it P.U.
But we fail to see it be you
And be me as much as it be him or her
Or B.M.

And all in all is all we are
Like Kurt Cobain said before he blew off his head
All in all is all we are
Despite our poetry
Or know-itry or no-itry
And one day we will know it
And if Kurt didn’t really believe it all before
He said ciao and ka-pow
He does now.