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Matchbook by John Dempsey


In a bed,
on the floor,
at 7 a.m. in a dark room,
lines of
cocaine and a
I start thinking about my soul. (My father?s got this real talent for appraisal.
Man can strip your masks, disguises and tattoos, measure the amount of steel in your backbone and the course of your intent with a ten-minute conversation.)

In a bathroom,
in the shower,
7:10 in a dark place, fighting
for just one more
to numb the teeth and gums
I start worrying about my soul. (I?ve had these ten-minute conversations with my father. Tons of them. And each time he shakes his head, looks at me, and say?s, like it?s hurting him, ?With you, John, I just can?t tell. It could go either way.?)

In an alley,
in a car
that hasn?t been paid off,
7:30 in a dark situation,
with cocaine
lighting up my thoughts
I start questioning my soul. (And still with that pained look on his face my father will ask, ?What do you really think, John? Do you think that you?re doing anything substantial? That when your day comes to die you can do so without feeling cheated?
Or better yet, without being afraid of what?s waiting up ahead??)

In a worn down body,
on a worn out street
a.m., with cocaine vision
directing my blood streaked eyes
I notice a speck of light
leaking in through all that dark. (Another talent that my father has is gauging reactions. He watches the eyes, corners of the mouth, takes note of the fingers and differences in breathing. He can see the demon smile working its way through my body and erupting from my lips. And with that pained look on his face, he begins to walk away. My demon smile shines. I quote the words of a dead man. I start singing,

?I might be going to hell in a bucket, baby,
but at least I?m enjoying the ride . . .?)

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the 60 dollar phone bill
the past due rent
the screaming


cell phones
don?t soothe the soul buddy
ain?t gonna make the nightmares go away
and the screaming women - huh,
well you know what that?s worth

?paycheck to paycheck?

measuring breathe
so that I won?t suffocate before the 1st

?cradle to grave?

a 30 day life cycle

(timeline on the sidewalk)

automated teller machines
that tell me nothing -
automate me to nowhere -
leave me stranded -
picking half smoked butts from the gutter (such a dirty habit!)
fishing for anonymous drinks at the bar (such a horrid young man!)
at the 65 cents -
front left pocket -
that I?m trying
to buy the sun with

(conservation and sanity)

last night
I fought for an hour and a half
and twisting
a cap
from a bottle
of Listerine - and I think it?s a good thing
that it wouldn?t open

I was in rare form

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Matchbook - John Dempsey

by John Dempsey

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  Matchbook - John Dempsey