THE LUCKY ONES
In 3 days I’ll be 64 years old
and I still haven’t figured out
how to write a slam poem.
I also don’t know if I’ll be
able to go to work for 6 more years
or so, but I’ve got an easy job,
so I think I’ll make it.
It’s weird to be at that point
in your life where you know
as a reality the inevitable
reality you used to scoff at
more or less, as a young man.
It’s also weird how you think
when you are drunk
that you are much handsomer
and glib than you actually are,
but the good thing about that is
whenever everyone else is loaded
they don’t know the difference.
It’s weird how a lot of things
in life are like that.
Sometime along the way when you
get off the bus and walk
around the gum and potholes
to a job every day, you notice
that whatever you do is only
as worthwhile as the rest of your
society’s willingness to accept
that what you are doing
makes any sense whatsoever.
There really is no reason
for much of anything humans do
once you get past hunting and fishing,
farming and shelter building.
Oh, sure, art makes sense too
if you look at the cave drawings.
Everything else is an agreed-upon
arrangement we promise
not to make fun of each other for—
sitting at desks making up stuff—
then we exchange pieces of paper
we agreed upon has value,
sometimes we laugh,
sometimes we cry, depending.
Nowdays everybody wants me to
buy a lot of gold but I would rather
have some dirt and a few seeds,
which you can’t have anymore
because they’re patented,
and people want us to use up all our water
so we can get more oil to power
our cars so we can get
to the pumps to buy more oil.
If you think about this stuff too long
it will make you crazy,
and of course if you don’t
you’re going to go crazy anyway
if you live long enough
which is where I’m getting
closer and closer to, and almost
every day at my job I see
the lucky ones who made it
to the Manors and the Gardens
and the Vistas, which is why I still
like to stay up late
at night, especially nights
like this when it rains,
when the earth has forgotten,
and I can hear the thunder crack.
—from Rattle #55, Spring 2017
Tribute to Civil Servants
Greg Kosmicki: “I worked for the State of Nebraska for almost 25 years as a social services worker, a Medicaid and food stamps worker and supervisor, and for the last twelve years as an adult protective services worker. Before that, I worked two years for a private agency providing case management services for homeless mentally ill persons. Prior to that my wife and I lived four years in a privately-operated group home for developmentally delayed persons, which we managed. Though these sorts of work are quite literally gold mines of human interactions for a writer to use, rarely have I written directly about my face-to-face experiences with the people I served because it did not feel ethically right to do so. Rather, I wrote often of the frustration of the need to work when all I wanted to do was to sit around, be a spoiled poet, and write. I retired in June of 2016 when a golden turd I wrote about in a poem in 1981 fell out of the sky, fulfilling all my magical thinking about poetry, which all who know me well know I have always worshipped as my primary god.”