It begins like this

(to my mother, a bit, but mostly to me)

It begins like this, this
path toward normalcy,
the funeral two weeks past:
One less beer before bed.
Dreams versus nightmares.
Willingly entering the jail of work.
Discovering your face is smiling.
Telling jokes.
Wondering why your friends
can't get along--then
not caring.
Considering
your life may continue as
once it did, an insensitive, joyous
expression of "Yes I'm Alive"...
Undermining this carefully
cultured mourning pose you've adopted.
And guiltlessly saying goodbye to it.

(this is not a poem)

NC Zoo, March 2007
This is not a poem.
This is not a diatribe.
This is not a manifesto.
This is not much of anything at all,
Except one man accepting his 
Legacy from another.
He carried burdensome feelings of
inadequacy, imperfection, 
insensitivity, all of them
tamped down hard,
buried deeply, like
a stone in his heart. He 
layered it with each failure,
consoled himself with 
"At least I am providing for my family." 
"At least I do good work, 
support my co-workers with grace,
with fairness." And mostly with
"At least I fear God." Though
whether fearing God came
from his true heart or from 
his boyhood he never knew.
Each new layer of failure or 
consternation or losing 
control to anger resonated 
all of the other layers. Each 
new layer seemed heavier 
than the last. 
                         Eventually
his heart-weight became
too much. One failure 
too many. He said to himself,
"I am perfect enough that never,
never should that have happened."
He said it again. And again. And every
day again. He repeated it,
haunted himself with it, 
layering and layering his heart 
until it only could beat 
when he didn't think--
and he only could not think by
shutting out his own voice, 
stopping up his ears to his heart-stone:
taking flight in sleep, 
in blessed nothingness.
Five years and five months he
stayed chained to that heart.
Then he died.
I saw that man yesterday. 
I see him more frequently
these days. 
I recognize his ways. It
seems I live with him more 
and more. I wish I could
cradle his rounded, load-weary
shoulders, caress the thin hair
of his head. Tell him it's okay.
Then ask him,
"Could you do the same 
for me?"
No, definitely not a poem.
Poems rhyme, 
poems have meter.
Poems make sense.