Toward Mediocrity


Honorable Mention Academy of American Poets Prize
Published: April 22, 2010

This is me sobering up now, realizing I’m alone

now, so very solitary on a train hurtling uptown

except for some haggard, androgynous, beastly

bum in priority seating reeking to high heaven

of a life gone awry who is clearly masturbating

to my muffled murmurs while humming a lullaby

as the rhythm of this machine rocks us to sleep

like swaddled twins in the arms of some cold mother.


These are my shoes, soaked, drenched, clinging

to frozen toes as every jolt of this rushing monster

brings me closer to some finality, the end of the line,

last stop, a studio apartment, ladders leading roofward—

in case of fire—where I will choke on yesterday’s

casserole warmed up and re-cut before throwing myself

onto a chair since that cockroach has yet to metamorphose

into a man with strong arms and killer Heimlich moves.


This is me with eyelids closing. This is me wondering

if that bartender is wondering if I made it home safely,

dialing operators, trying the halls of every building,

dying to find me though he cannot. My traveling companion

even at this moment, is still making passionate love

to Itself, grunting and tugging as the conductor calls

out in some scratched language that the end is extremely

nigh, and we better wipe ourselves off and face it with dignity.