Failure. The stink of it seems to fill my senses lately.
Being let go from a job I loved was both a slap in the face and a wake-up call. There are times lately when I feel like a failure, but of course, my lovely wife does not let that go on for more than a second or two before she love-slaps me upside the figurative head and gets me back on track.
Nonetheless, I have been thinking a lot lately about failure, about letting dreams slip away unreached for. Plenty of people have dreams of what they wanted to be when they grew up, and then they find themselves old and no closer to those dreams than they were when they first conceived them.
Which, of course, led me back to the following poem.
This was written about a year and a half ago, inspired by a TV show I saw about a man who killed his son in fit of rage because the boy had attained a goal the father once thought he wanted, but never went after. That kind of bitterness is not what I want for myself, and what came out was the following:
THE FAILED WRITER
These days the old Ford sits on blocks,
the manuscript it inspired is cracked and peeled,
somewhere in the attic,
the events of his life
written in disappearing ink,
no permanent trace
of his ever having
circled the Sun.
From the day he first drew breath,
desire was a map with no markers.
He had never really been sure
where he was
or where he was headed,
his life was patchwork and primer
with too much time lost
Called himself a writer
because calling himself a bum
would not get him laid.
Time got pissed away,
traded in for smoke rings
in a windstorm,
and age now holds his joints in a wintry fist
while he waits for Gabriel
to ring him up.
He stares at the late autumn sky
smoking, drinking black coffee,
and wonders where that damn manuscript went.