Eight Hundred Thousand Applications

I went home and swallowed my pride to live
with my parents at 28 and get a real job
and save and assess marketable skills
and find nothing nobody paying a poet

more than peanuts an hour and that
the government so fine say it do it
fuck it I sat down and worked
hard on eight applications, eight

for six months and two studying
for the GRE and then driving
two hours to Vestal, fucking Vestal
and back in the dark after work taking

their damn test and paying two hundred
dollars and paying 60 dollars
and paying 60 dollars and 60 dollars
and 60 dollars and writing those damn
essays and selling myself bald and editing
and printing and revising and editing
those damn essays and getting through

my days at my government issue desk
job in my government issue office getting
rides both ways from my father
in my brother’s tie trading away
my life and vigor and youth for currency
and spending that exchange on this:

Eight applications. Eight fucking

then up on a chance and flying for free
to Tanzania and this gripless challenge
learning Kiswahili from scratch struggling
with everything food water electricity being

always a pale translucent alien
with a glowing golden light
in my gut and always people talking
to me also always with an eye
on my glowing gut and knowing

that it hurts the alien but one
can simply reach in there
and snatch the treasure that will help
so much and who cares aliens
can always go back to Mars
for treatment to repair
the holes in their glutinous jelly
and being here one foot stupidly
still on Mars getting attacked

through the window of a cab catching
a poor kid pickpocket my head already
back on Mars on a professional path
where I could walk and work in a bubble
a bath of poetry and energy and like-minds
and creative flames no more lone-wolfing

from the mountaintop my dream
life my ambition my head already
reading my acceptance just one not


fucking rejections rolling down together
like bowling pins in a slow building
strike stomp the floor and the last
one falls and here I am and there

is the equatorial sun and palm trees waving
against a grand and vivid sky huge
rolling clouds and I have music and monkeys
and a book of Roman history and a new language

to learn and use and smiling children holding
my hand and writing so much writing always
still to do and I’m young and have the time
now so fuck it fuck pity shit turn it up
and kick and live for nothing

worth doing is easy and you knew that
you know that no one can or will ever
do it for you so fuck it fists up now
shoulders back now it’s just you
and me now so sack up and see

the sky feel the wind wash your laugh
and live to let go do it all now delight

in the struggle let it go go to work
in the rarified air of your mountaintop workshop
with lightning in your hair and gold
in your gut and greatness

when it comes

will be yours.

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