Saturday, October 20, 2018

Head Full of Boogeymen / Belly Full of Snakes (or, No Escape from The Island of Misfit Boyz) By Jason Ryberg

Some nights,
the restless specter of the mind
will just not lie still, 
opting instead to skulk about 
the dark, gothic country-side of the psyche:
the foggy moors of the emotions, 
the primeval backwoods of pre-historic memory, 
the two-lane highways and old back-roads,
like stitches, criss-crossing and holding 
the whole gooey, grey mass together. 

On nights like these,
when the flesh (and perhaps the ego, as well) 
is bruised and battered beyond recognition, 
and the ancient, haunted scaffolding of the bones 
is creaking and popping, like an old cedar tree in the wind,
under the compounded and constantly shifting weight 
of the 60-hour work week, 

when the sprawling network 
of nerves and arteries and capillaries 
is a NASCAR speedway (enriched by
high-octane coffee and toxic energy drinks),

the spirit searches, longingly, 
for a co-sponsor, of sorts,
a technical advisor or low-grade savior, even,
to shepherd us through yet another 
shadowy valley of sleepless Summer hell,

an intermediary between 
the cold, indifferent cosmos
and the unreconstructed cave dweller
that still huddles, fearfully, somewhere inside us all.

We’re talking one of those nights of endless, 
sexistential free-fall into the gaping, black maw
of the great Space / Time consortium,
like a city-block-sized sink-hole
just suddenly opened up beneath you,

deep and dark as the legendary 
long, dark tunnel of the soul 
(about which, so many poems 
and stories and songs are so earnestly
purged out into the wild, blue 
meme-o-sphere every year).

But here, the light at the end 
is the light leaking out 
from the other side of a door 
left cracked open, conveniently, for you
(almost as if someone were expecting you):

a light with the weird luminescence of the light 
one would dig one’s own grave by, maybe,
or better yet, a prison break light
or concentration of multi-colored spot lights 
shining down on you at that precise precarious moment
you’ve forgotten the lines to your big,
solemn, earnest speech to Life’s unsmiling
and wildly indifferent grand jury.

And despite what half the ghosts in your head 
and damn near every one of the snakes in your belly 
are telling you, you proceed, heedlessly, anyway ...

only to bolt awake, 4:37 am, 
some place you don’t recognize,
an old-fashioned rotary-dial telephone ringing 
and ringing like a goddamn ice-pick in your ear,
a collect-call from the Island Of Misfit Boyz, it seems,

a Mr. Charley In The Box
(yeah, you remember,
you guys go waaaay back)

and will you accept
the charges?

About Jason Ryberg:

Jason Ryberg is the author of twelve books of poetry,
six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders,
notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be 
(loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry 
letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. 

He is currently an artist-in-residence at both 
The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s 
and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor 
and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collections of poems 
are Zeus-X-Mechanica (Spartan Press, 2017) 
and A Secret History of the Nighttime World (39 West Press, 2017). 
He lives part-time in Kansas City with a rooster named Little Red 
and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere 
in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also 
many strange and wonderful woodland critters. 

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