Coming of Age

 

There comes a time in every man's life where he must slide
away from what he knows and tip toe toward what he doesn't. Hold
on to your dreams, they tell him. Ignore the lead pipe
that drips its warning on your forehead every morning, keep sleeping
through the sunlight. Draw the shades, for you're in the center of a ring
that never ends, not for you or for anyone else. Turn the fan

back on, you might as well be cool for the rest of eternity. Fan off
the soggy dollar bill on your bedside table. Once it's dry, why not use it to slide a
bit off the good stuff down your nose? Take yesterdays damp towel and wring
out the pain of every sober breath like an Indian Sunburn, but hold
back the tears: those can never wake back up. Just let them sleep
in your place, let them build up pressure inside you, like the piping

hot kettle that screams for attention as the Pied Piper
did to the little ratty children that chewed away at their fantastic
friends and families, knowing well that their greedy sleep
meant that their parents worked that much harder to slide
their dragging feet to the Gulags and back every day, just so they could hold

a few wilted coins in their shabby pockets to buy a ring

for their fingers worth more than their whole homes. A ringing
endorsement, I know. But hey, it's tradition. So take another hit of the peace pipe,
name your son Junior, watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and hold
on to the idea that you are your own person. Think of the ornate Chinese fan

on your mothers mantelpiece that you accidently slid
into the furnace, where all trinkets and tchotchkes go to sleep.

Take a walk on the soundless shore, the edge of the world as you fall asleep
on your best friends lap, your eyes clenched tight, afraid of seeing her and the ring
that might brand itself on your hand, like a heifer marked for slaughter, a sliding
knife forced across your throat to let the rust drain free from the spigot, the pipe,
the faucet, the tube that hoses out your burning desires, your worries that your fans
might be disappointed in the creative direction that you've decided to take, instead of holding

on to what works. Why fix what ain't broke? Why hold on
to the cliff side when I can let go and plunge into the sleeping
darkness and never wake up? I may still be in bed, the fan
may still be spinning round and round like the shining ring
that caught your eye back in June, the fog may still billow from my glass pipe,

sending smoke signals to my inner mind, but I will slide

on my socks and slide into those shoes in the morning, I will hold your hand and kiss

the ring before I leave, I will fix the leaky pipe above our heads,
but for now, I will turn off the fan, however silent, so we can get some sleep.