Summer

Life lives and dies and lives again.
The grass is greener on both sides after rainfall.

Lonely people laugh too loud

Muss es sein?
Es muss sein!

I.

Last Saturday of July and
the humidex has been over thirty for a week
city all fans and air conditioners
city all sticky and complaining
city all reveling in summer

(Last Saturday of July last year I was…)

Last Saturday of July and I’d
left my car on Harbour Drive
and walked into weekend exhausted and alive
I’d seen people born and people die
sweating through twelve hour days
a whole week dead tired
another week I survived

(Last Saturday of July last year. We goddamn tried.)

Last Saturday of July and
I hear music in the voices of merry kids
or kids-to-be or kids that once were
and I hear music in the voices of
a happy band of misfits and I
hear a friend call every day
“The summer of my life”
and I think I’ve already had my one
of those
but this one still smells sweet
and I am older now, so old some days
and I appreciate it more
because it’s all so fleeting
and all we hope for is
to anchor ourselves somewhere
out of danger
and much of life is maintenance
and metaphors sound smarter
after six beer
and the less we wear the
less self-conscious we can be
and the more music we hear the
more we want to sing.

II.

Ever catch yourself,
some time too late in the night,
surrounded by people having a good time,
and have your heart drop?
And the guilt comes on
and the claws come out
and you have to look down
and you try to ride it out?
hide it out–
smile it out–

don’t forget about that while
you’re out having a good time.
(go out and have a good time
go out and have a good time.
)

You make peace.
Everybody has things they have to live with.
You can only give what you can give to it.
You wish absolutely everyone well.

III.

In the corner, end of the bar
by the stage he is there
and he is looking out across the room
familiar faces he has never spoken to
past pleasantries
and rote
late-night deck smoke-bumming
non-adventures
and he takes it in and there’s
something here that he
knows makes him feel welcome
even though there’s not really anyone
there actively doing so
and he’s afraid, a little bit
though he’d never admit it
to really have much of a conversation
and it’s sixty bucks for a few bands and
a few words and a few doubles and a
few quarters left on the bar
and half a conversation
and a girl who might have been looking at him
but he wasn’t quite sure
and to be honest he’s not
sure what he would even do
but there’s promise,
goddamn it,
there’s promise,
there is something out there somewhere
and he’s twenty-two and nobody from nowhere,
at least not yet
but he’s got all the time in the world.
And there is something
out there somewhere
and it could just as easily be here
as anywhere else.

IV.

You can make plans to accomplish things
diagram every deconstruction
balance your budget
meet your deadlines
plan your day
but you can’t get where life is taking you any
faster than it wants you to
and you don’t pass a sign
now entering
city limits
and often you won’t know where you’ve found
yourself until it’s already in the rearview mirror
because that dusty old trail is long and tired
and parts of it are so monotonous
no scenery
just getting mesmerized
by blurring lines
trees flying by
and passing time

but sometimes it’s just all
of a sudden,
look up ahead,
holy fucking shit,
look at this.
look at this!

And you pull in
and take in
a few moments of bliss.

V.

Don’t think I don’t remember, or that
I won’t forever.
Don’t think I know,
don’t think I’ve tried to sweep anything under
the rug.
Don’t think you can’t ask me about it
because you can, and I will talk.
Don’t think I don’t know,
don’t recognize it in faces,
or that the gravity of it all is lost on me
or that it’s believed okay.
We can only live each day once,
and there’s at least ten or fifteen I’d like back
right off the hop, and my life would look a lot different today
but that doesn’t happen.
It doesn’t come back,
Sometimes you break things so badly
they can never be repaired,
sometimes people you think the world
of will never talk to you again,
so you do what you can to
show respect and try to make up
for it somehow.
It might be fruitless,
but in the end we all
mostly get what we deserve.
And then,
sometimes we don’t.

I’ve known some that
haven’t,
but I hope that they just haven’t yet,
I’ll throw in on a wish
for your happiness.

VI.

Last Saturday of July and I feel
guilty for all the smiles
and the frowns I survived and
it’s been hot sticky summer
city all sweat and smiles
and I watched friends play
sloppy dancing (power)poppy
masterpieces for the girls
wearing skirts and the boys
downing beer
all the plaid shirts and goddamn
fucking beards
and the beautiful rhythm
gone up-tempo just in time
and the quiet is surrounded
and they get on just fine.

and I watched this kid I know go
home with two different girls in
one weekend
and all I could really do
was shake my head and laugh
cause that’s how summer works
’round here

and we had to walk around
downtown for at least a goddamn hour on
Friday night looking for
one goddamn table to have a meal and
a beer because in this place
we know we only get so much time,
any of us, to get out so we
get out while the getting is good
because we gotta spend so much time
in our houses,
in our heads, just getting by,
but last weekend of July and it’s pretty
much like the whole world descended
on one small street
in one small town
in one small world
where rumour floats like bodies
and debts are paid in blood and
reputation is just a word
we have no choice but to exist
alongside each other
’cause when they built this place
they didn’t really display a lot
of foresight
or maybe just didn’t realize it was gonna
grow like it did, all twisting and narrow and
backwards and crowded and hilly and fucked-up and
haphazard
and just goddamn disorienting some days
and disoriented others
and end up as it was,
still self-actualizing five hundred years
gone, but it
is what it is, and
don’t apologize for what it is, neither.
We all make choices,
and sometimes we make them by
not making one.

So you eventually find a table,
and you gotta go around a little
trying to find that one last chair
but eventually some kind stranger
has exactly what you’re looking for,
and you finally get to sit down and
you watch the crowd move amongst
itself.
Summer dresses and head-perched sunglasses,
brand-new shorts and farmer’s tans
strappy sandals and sneakers and t-shirts
people who wish only to be seen
people who wish only to be invisible
people who wish only to be people
whatever you’re into
whatever you’re up to
whatever you’re in for
whatever you’re up for
whatever you need.

Last Saturday of July and it just starts
to pour out of the goddamn heavens
and it’s late enough that if
you already made it this far,
then fuck it, you might as well stay
and get wet
and makeup runs and everyone smells like
they’ve been sweating for days
and the hues of all the
gorgeous human eyes
are brighter and deeper
from long days of sunshine
and I’m keeping on with my vigil,
watching it all pass by;
I know there’s a beautiful friend nearby
and what I look for these days
can’t be found in one night.

I take my pleasures in the simpler
quieter wonders now,
the beautiful girl
behind the counter
in the coffee shop
singing along
to the Jackson 5 unselfconsciously,
the comfort in knowing exactly
what somebody is talking about,
the way that people point and shuffle
smile and welcome
turn and wave,
the guy who pushes that cart
with bottles around town
with feeling,
up over the hill, shirt off, sweating,
getting a workout and
doing his part,
the awkward, somewhat frightened
fortysomething out-of-towner
who chooses you out of a room
“don’t suppose you know where to find a…”
(Sorry, man, but I’m sure it’s not far.)
people’s secrets I still have that
I will still keep.
No, I will not hurt anybody anymore.

So it pours and it pours,
distant thunder goes by,
all the wide-open lives
make love to their
wide-open night
let myself into
a friend’s
at 5:30 smelling like
pondwater and light
the humidity’s broken
something is perfectly right
but

Last week in July and I this week
heard the father of friends
of friends and siblings suddenly died
there’s constant reminders
in this fragile life,
to temper emotion
lest you get to caught up in the
sunlight,

(Two years ago in July
a good friend died.
Sometimes there are no answers,
only questions.
I wonder what you get a chance to know.
)

And somewhere around when
the clouds started getting close,
before the girls and boys danced
in the rain and danced it off into the night,
a beautiful baby girl was born
(They’re saying Charlotte, I hear.)
and my family grew just a little
(and my family is beautiful)
and next weekend my little cousin gets married
and life keeps going to life places
and me? Well, yeah, I guess I was
kinda standing naked on a rock
with a beer
in a pond
with two other dudes
laughing about the fact that I was standing naked
on a rock with two other dudes
in a pond
at 4:30 in the morning, and yeah, well,
I’m almost thirty-four,
so shouldn’t I be… (No, fuck off.)
but
I’m only really starting to figure out this life thing now
and I’m not embarrassed
because the only thing I really have to be
is okay with me
and then I know I’ll be okay to everyone else
and I ran into an old friend
who’s a few years ahead of me,
but heading where I want to go,
and a girl he’d used to work with
had just suddenly died
and we talked about courses,
but mostly we just talked about life.

And I see a light in
your and your and your eyes
and I am committed to taking my time
and I am remorseful and I am guilty of crimes
but I am still here, and I am still trying

And you are a beacon, and you keep me in line
And you are a rock, no matter how dirty the time
And you are so many beautiful things that I will never describe
And you are so brilliant, and you’re a talented mime
And all of you, working your guts out to live,
and all of you, giving everything you can give.
such talented, hardworking, inspiring kids, so
I get my back in it, live on, let live, forgive,
I want solace for my parents;
they want safety for their kids.

I’ve always loved thunderstorms
I’ve always loved summer
I’ve long battled Julys
that pulled manic from wonder.
Finally
no
more
just
two feet,
try to stand up straight,
breathe,
look people in the eye.
We are all here together,
we are so very alive.
I am here, together.
I am alive.

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