This is a poem, by Clay Matthews, posted at Girls with Insurance today. It fits right in here, but please follow the link and read the other good stuff they have to offer, then visit Ghost Road Press or Blazevox and pick up his book(s), why don't you? I will be doing so forthwith.
There are a thousand terrible names
one person can call another, and I have said them all.
All my memories begin a little bit confused,
but I was eighteen and standing on rotten carpet,
there were short-sleeve shirts on a chair, my brother
and I in a trailer parked at the edge of a cotton field,
Nicky and Kenny, two guys we worked with,
all of us for my dad, cutting some meth on a small table,
asking if we still wanted to go frog gigging.
These are the people that other people say
shouldn’t have free health care. These are the people
others say should just rot. Natural selection,
rubbish to the wind, worthless pieces of shit,
and on and on. The irony here is that they
don’t care about health care, anyway,
they don’t care about the government, they don’t
care about their teeth or livers, they don’t care
about much but right, right now. A paycheck is a long way
away most of the time. A week is an eternity.
I am friends with these people, but I am not them.
I am half in love with their lives at eighteen,
and the other half in love with their lives today.
So we all kind of move around the trailer in different ways.
Awkwardly with the drugs on the table and a gun
resting in the corner. More familiar when it was
another trailer that my sister lived in, fourth of July,
baked beans in the oven, fireworks lining up
in the dead grass outside. Redneck, poor white trash,
say whatever you want. I’m confused about a lot
of things. I don’t blame you. Nicky and I used to work
hard together, building utility trailers, we used to go out
on Friday nights and drink at the Blue Moon,
I was underage, he was just wanting to be perpetually young,
wondering about how to get fired from another job
so he could draw unemployment, so he could do nothing
while collecting your hard-earned tax money.
These are the kind of people I’ve called names, too.
Whether bum or prick, lazy bastard or junky,
we named each other in the daylight and dark hours
before and after we would meet up for drinks.
In my town, we all had names. And we were all known,
too, by the names we’ll never know, mouthed
in the cabs of cars and to different sorts of friends
and while driving back to college or in line
at the grocery store trying to buy cigarettes
with food stamps. Everybody wants
so much. Some of my neighbors today
would love to be able to carry concealed pistols
in bars. I would like student loan forgiveness.
We’re begging, like dogs, little ideologies barking
all over the place. And what is right or wrong?
These are my friends. I look at us all
and love us for what we are and are not:
fathers, sisters, racists, the unemployed, addicts,
assholes, etc. and so on. I am eighteen again.
I am thirty-one next month. I am looking at the rain
outside, waiting for the sun, and wondering if Nicky
is dead yet. It’s easy to miss him right now,
being so far away. If he’s alive, I’m sure
he’s still a worthless son-of-a-bitch. But even
a worthless son-of-a-bitch deserves better.
Thanks so much for the link! You guys rock.