If I look deep enough inside myself,
past the musty stacks of books and magazines,
past the crappy landscapes, still-lifes
and self-portraits and the dusty, junk-lined shelves,
if I squint hard enough
I can see the woman I need
riding a bike down the wet
and leafy streets of my dreams,
or, sitting at a desk in a lonely room, somewhere,
leafing through a magazine,
or, standing on a downtown corner,
waiting for the light to change-
a little spare-change in one hand
(for the man with the big, green parrot
and the little, red guitar)
and a book of Neruda’s odes in the other.
And I DO need her, I swear I do.
more than I need this paper and the pen
that pins me precariously to the world,
more than I need the job
(that barely keeps me from the curb),
more than I need Light’nin’ or Link Wray
or Motorhead or Miles or Hank
or even Monk, for Christ’s sake,
more than I need family or food or friends
or my Guiness and Powers at the end
of a twelve-hour, 110-in-the-shade kind of day.
MotherFUCKER, it hurts to say
and it’s sad, I know, I know, but it’s true
and it seems like there’s not a damn thing
I can do about it.
No, I need this woman so goddamn bad
it nearly bends me in half whenever I’m foolish enough
to really imagine what it must be like
just to taste her,
or, merely put my hand on her
conspicuously exposed waist-line or tightly
blue jeaned ass as she passes by (on her way
to buy us another round of drinks, perhaps).
Even a knowing or quizzical glance
across a crowded restaurant
would knock me three days walking distance.
And I CAN taste her, like the tart, oily after-glow
of a heavy red wine (that prob’ly costs
more than a days pay).
And I swear I can smell
that exact, invisible X-marks-the-spot
between her shoulder blades
and I can hear her singing along
(very poorly but with much duende)
to Big Mama Thorton or Loretta Lynn or Mazzy Star
while doing the dishes or just driving
around town in her car.
And I can feel her
contoured up along-side o’ me
in a bed, in a Motel 6,
September, let’s say,
3AM and the window’s open
and the room is breathing slowly with the dark,
the TV turned to an info-mercial
for hair-growth formulas
or home-schooling or somethin’…
Shiiiiit. Who the hell am I foolin’!?
the night or Link or Monk?
this half-drunk Guinness or the person whistling,
now, down on the street or maybe
even this wise-guy on TV?
Aint no one here in bed beside me,
no one to sing me a blues
or read me Neruda or buy us a drink.
Hell, if I was to somehow
stumble upon the woman I need,
right here, right now,
or standin’ on a downtown corner
or walkin’ down some wet and leafy street
full of laughing children and happy dogs
and goddamn twittering birds
(all singing songs of praise, each to each,
concerning the woman of my dreams),
or, better yet, across a crowded bar or restaurant…
She’d look knowingly, longingly even,
and smile and wave, and beckon
to the guy right behind me.
-Jason Ryberg, 2004