Forty years on the East Coast does things to a man...
Livin’ my big fat South Jersey life,
Pounds packed on thanks to bad attitudes and bad upbringing.
Middle aged now, and feeling the years of bullshit
In aching knees, elbows, heart.
Reared in the shadow of Brotherly Love,
I’ve never lost sight of that dramatic irony
As I maneuvered through minefields
Of mockery, clenched fists, and unquiet desperation.
Years of breathing trash-to-steam vapors and
The angry exhalations of the down-and-out
Have left me gasping for faraway air.
Magazines and screens show me pictures
Of skinny happy folks 3,000 miles to my left,
Doing something that doesn’t look like work
In a place with no cubicles to speak of.
I shuffle through my weeks
Seeing another life float in the sky like seagulls above me.
I can taste this other world, a parallel dimension
Where I’m West Coast-thin.
Sipping lattes and the milk of human kindness,
Strolling on beaches with no alpha males watching
For an excuse to pummel me as they laugh too loud
About casino winnings, drinking binges, and whining bitches.
In the California of the mind
The wife and kids splash and laugh through Pacific breakers
Just beyond the shady lenses of my not-cheap sunglasses,
And I settle into days of smiles, open hands, and my firm new flesh.