The Skinny, Crazy Kid
He was a skinny, crazy kid
so skinny he could crawl
up into the ice machine and send
the big blocks sliding down the chute
to his friends on their way to a party.
He was a very skinny kid
so skinny he fit through the vent
on the boss’s door
and copped the bottle of whiskey on his desk.
He was a wild boy.
He drank too much
and drove like a maniac
walking away cheerfully
from cars spun off straightaways
and rolled on curves.
He was a lucky kid, too, ya gotta say
He was a scrappy, skinny kid.
He didn’t want you to think that
just because he was a little guy
he couldn’t kick your ass or
give it a real good try.
But, too, he was a sensitive and dreamy kid
who looked at orange sunsets
and heard baroque trumpets in his head.
who read Leaves of Grass
on his basement bed.
and dashed into the alley where his buddies
worked on their cars, to read his latest poems to them.
They lifted their heads from under the hood,
they really didn’t know what to make of him.
He stepped out into the world
like the fool over the cliff
smiling and with a sunny nature.
He loved music and danced as if
his head were in flames.
He stuck his thumb into the night and the day,
open to everyone and everything
He was terribly romantic and loved
the idea of love
He burned through decades:
Catholic school, the neighborhood, the dirty avenue
war, bars, streets,
islands and coast
desert, mountaintops and cities strung
like strange, dark pearls
on the night’s black highway.
He lay down to sleep by the river
and let the voices in the river sing
him to sleep.
He stared at the stars until he became the stars.
He followed the track laid down by Kerouac
he rolled down the road of Rimbaud
Before a strong woman brought the earth to him
and set it firmly under his feet.
As long in coming as that was
It was still a long time ago.
He’s an old man, now
looking out the window
with the same crooked grin
at the sunlight on the leaf,
the drifting cloud
He takes it all in.
He knows you don’t go down this road
without breaking a few hearts,
but clumsily or not it was love,
love that he was spreading after all
and so his own heart is full.
He is in no hurry, anymore.
He will step into death
the way he stepped into life.
and it’s cool with him
whether or not
the universe spins around
and spits him out,
a skinny, crazy kid again.