Tuesday, March 9, 2010


The night was thick, black and nasty
and my mattress was a raft, drifting down
a mighty Mississippi of memory-
a Viking longboat in which my broken
warrior-poet’s form had been placed
and sent downstream through the grey mists
of eternity and on to the far bright shores of my
forefathers and their fathers before them,
only to be turned away from those fearsome
gates for being “insufficiently deceased.”

And, lately, it seems like I’ve been waking
in varying stages of dream-state, at all my
“former places of residence,” feeling around
the bed for some imaginary “former spouse
or significant other,” freaking out about
being late to some “former place of employment”
and whatever it is I’m gonna say (this time?)
to assuage whichever “former employer.”

I can’t help but believe if things continue
at this rate, eventually, I’ll bolt awake thinking
I’m late for my first day of kindergarten
(though, hopefully my mother will also be
on hand to say, “It’s OK, little man.
It’s only Saturday. Go out and play.”).

And then there’s that recurring one where,
in what some new age, metaphysical,
guided meditation counselor type might
call “a deep subterranean cave of me,”
some here-to-fore unknown (or merely suspected)
part of me suddenly cracks and snaps off
like a massive icicle or stalactite, morphing
on its way down into another more fully actualized me,
a new and improved me, you could say,
and hits the ground, running, like Jesse Owens
at the ’36 Olympics.

And let’s just say, for the sake of the poem
(and your brief relationship with it),
that this new and improved me is actually you
and it’s not a slimy or treacherous cave floor
that your feet have found but a cool, rain-slicked street,
late at night, in some industrial part of town
you don’t recognize

and, just over there, to the right,
maybe fifty, sixty feet away, at most, there’s
a freight train blowing out its big brassy basso profundo
as it slows down to take the curve and it's not
even an issue of nerve or wanting it bad enough
'cause you know you can make it, this time, man,
and you don’t even have a suitcase or bag or anything
but that shit don’t even matter ‘cause everything’s
gonna be different from here on out if you can
just catch that train, man, everything gonna be just fine
if you can just keep runnin’ and sayin’ it
and sayin’ it and sayin’ it:

"everything gonna be alright,
everything gonna be alright,
everything gonna be alright,
everything gonna be alright... "

-Jason Ryberg, 2010

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