Poetry Thursday: Ridonkulous

caricature of the author by the artist Walt Taylor

Call me a clown
or a loser,
a cheat or a louse,
a hack or a snob
or a “poet” (in quotes).

Call me crazy! (You’re on safe ground, there,
as it runs in the family).
Call me clueless
or craven,
(three times fast).

Call me the doormat of true genius,
pretender to the nearest available throne,
World’s Weakest Brownnose
or the Leading Asshole in the State.

I won’t stop you.
I won’t even pause to correct you.

You can call me nothing
I haven’t labeled myself
years before,
and with far more venom
and bite,
quietly at first,
hoping no one would notice,
out loud later on,
when I learned
the value
of getting there first.

After all, let’s be honest:
there are more things wrong with me
than there are sticks to shake at them,
than there is tea in China,
than there are fleas
on a dead horse.
More things
than I can hope to correct
in a thousand lifetimes,
and as far as I know,
I just have the one.

And yet,
here I am, imperfect, ungainly,
exuberant, beloved,
ridiculous, sublime,
occasionally loathed,
absolutely breathing
and utterly human.

Every day is a gift
to the clown
who knows it.
Every busted, hateful, glorious,
broken-down day
is one more chance
to turn dross into gold,
to let go of a lump of awful
or maybe
if you’re really lucky
and patient
and strong,
to sque-e-e-eze it into
something brilliant
you can actually see through.

And so I awaken
and shake off the night,
apply my greasepaint
don my red nose,
pull on my bloomers
and Bozo shoes
and do the work
I am here to do.


Magnificent drawing of yours truly, the clown, © Wally Torta, gentleman and scholar.