D. B. DEVILLIERS

Poetry

Tag: life

Some Things Are Worth Fighting For And This Is One Of Them

It’s more than a little tired at this point to
go after that old cliché that it’s always better being
younger than older
but I’m still young enough to do it
what happens is you learn things
you learn what everyone learns:

that life has a nasty tendency to slip through your fingers or
sneak past you when for an instant you lowered your
gaze without even realizing it
that happiness isn’t exactly what you thought it was

it’s not a destination because barring certain professions most
people don’t go on a road trip and arrive in the middle of a battle
because that’s what it really is
you fight so hard to eke out a little
instant for yourself
and when that instant comes you’ve gotta dig in and
fight to hold on to it because the waves never stop coming
and they never get tired
they never falter

but we’re just people
feeble fallible people
we get tired and we falter and the instant slips by and you
find yourself nearly overrun and in that instant you’ll want to
turn your pistol on yourself because you’ve heard all the
awful stories of what’ll happen now
truth is we’re most of us no more than two or
three bad choices from
a gutter or a
gravestone and so you’ve
got to dig in and fight despite your
shrinking perimeter

and this is the part that trips a lot of people up
sure trips me up
there’s no valor in this fight
it’s you get up you brush your teeth you put your boots on you
tell customers to have a good one for eight hours in
exchange for forty eight dollars
this ain’t iwo jima even though sometimes I think
that’s what our instincts are really screaming for
a saber tooth tiger you’ve got to spear before it
starts to tear into
your trachea
starvation and exposure a constant
horrifying struggle against forces so unimaginably
bleak because that’s what we’ve done for the overwhelming
portion of our time as a species and nothing is ever unlearnt quickly
least of all the worst of things

I will create distance between myself and reality
I will seek ease
I will stand in line and buy my prepackaged meat and the foam and
the cellophane separate me from the
man who nine hundred miles away struck the beast over the
head with a sledgehammer to stun it straddling the narrow
booth into which it was led and then the other men cinch its legs and winch
it up and cut its throat and it bleeds to death without even having
an instant to wonder
how its remains are to be cut up and trucked away refrigerated
inventoried to be bought and sold to wonder that that’s the only reason it was ever
fed cornmeal augered down a hundred yard trough alongside countless others of
its kind literally cow-eyed and caged and utterly bewildered until it reached size enough to
take the trip to the final spot where the
man waits with the hammer
I will do this
I’ll hardly think about it
I’ll hardly care of course
or I’d make different choices
and this isn’t a poem advocating vegetarianism hell I hardly
eat vegetables unless you count corn mash distilled into
whiskey it’s a poem about well
this is the modern life and won’t you sit here and
marvel at its splendor
all the ease it breeds in me
ill at ease
maybe you know what I’m talking about
maybe not

and someday I’ll make one of these and it’ll be right and it’ll save me
suppose every writer thinks the writing will save him
and yes of course the war in my head never stops no
matter how much I move the words around
what can you do what can you really do
well there are lots of ways to end up in federal custody
and there are lots and lots of ways to die
and lots and lots of ways to live
so dig in buddy, it’s gonna be for the long haul
nobody’s fast enough to distance reality, not really
and it’ll be worth it in the end
you’ll carve out your piece
it’ll be worth it in the end
you’ll find your peace
if only for an instant
and it’ll all be worth it.

Words For Someone Who Helped Put Words In My Head Once

oh lovely lovely
the pain I could never have presumed to imagine
because of course there do exist
people who hide it a little better than I do
or they deal with it better, feel free to pick one

suppose it’s not an awful bet to just go ahead and
assume anyone you might come across in the street or wherever has
more than likely known suffering beyond reckoning
but we get so goddamned hung up on ourselves
coroner’s summation: asphyxiation by having hanged oneself from oneself
perpetual motion sorts of self-destructive engines we might be
but we’re young enough still
like to think if I’m lucky enough to see ninety I’ll still
think I’m young enough to hope
for the next day
and oh lovely
doesn’t this world just tear you to pieces

speaking of course for myself—largely just guessing in your case
suppose I wouldn’t have minded learning to make more than a mere
guess but I am at this point not but the manner of man who I am
and I know what manner of man that is
so of course I couldn’t begin to blame you

we’ll get to that place
not together, at different points in space and time but I do
honestly believe that is a place and it’s not heaven but it’s
what we all hope and try and strive for
we won’t meet there
but there will be a great open sky and
deep red earth and on occasion the pitiless sun will
run out for a smoke break and we’ll grab a drink of water and cool in
the fleeting shade and it’ll be so breathtakingly

well

the poet makes his effort at five o
clock in the morning
and promises nothing short of honesty
and certainly not specificity

but I believe the pitiless sun will bake the earth to the
grill cover shimmer and the sky will be so awfully blue and
your paradise will not be mine but there will be love in my heart
for this thing I had to hurt so much for
to keep above ground
to keep moving
and I believe in you as well
there will be love in my heart and that must be
what we suffer for
oh lovely
that must be it.

And There Shall Be No More Death

I think I’ll probably live in that moment forever
if only I could live there forever
if only it could have been one of the
good ones or at least the not awful ones if
only I could live forever there where the stunned
disbelieving still held power there’s
a knock on the door nine
forty seven pm there’s been
the worst thing anyone’s ever said
there’s been wash your hands with
warm water don’t use heroin vaccinate drive the
speed limit don’t hold the kickback
brake to the forward handle on the saw there’s
change your oil don’t run yellows don’t
drive drunk we’ll come get you
make your bed
take your vitamins
make friends
play sports
study
try
try and you’ll make it
but there’s worst thing anyone’s ever heard the
worst thing anyone’s ever said
there’s been an accident
and if I could live forever
if I could live forever
sometimes you follow the rules and sometimes there’s just
nothing to be done
killed instantly they said but don’t you
think they always say that
and but what did you do except unwittingly
intercept the deviant trajectory of an unconscious man who
should have been piloting his seven thousand pound
vehicle and sometimes you just don’t get to know why
you just don’t get to know why
do we even really exist
and if we don’t then can we really no longer exist
somewhere else in time or space does that
awful closed casket find love find peace make peace
you just can’t know.

Sorry No Eggs Today (Hope)

and you try so hard or you
don’t try at all and you’d
think you’d learn but you don’t
you find new means by which to
derive hope or you use the old
ones or there are none and you
try really hard or you don’t
try at all and you beat on towards
the zero one hundred and fifty one
thousand and six hundred every
single day and it’s so terribly
hard to escape the preoccupation but
you try so hard and it’s what
you think about when you
scream in your sleep but you
don’t know what it is and you
think you’d learn but
you don’t and it all feels
like it’s getting darker and
darker and you try so hard but
it doesn’t work so you try
a different way and it all you
think you’d learn but
godot doesn’t show
nothing is won
nothing is learned
no one is saved

there’s just not enough time
there’s just no time
if only we had more time

but it didn’t not happen yet
and the poem isn’t over
especially when it is.

what I’m trying to say here is that
I’m very very afraid to die
and despite this fact it’s just so hard
to make meaning out of life
but it’s so important
so staggeringly important
that you try.

Advice, Unsolicited

Whether it gets better or not I won’t speak to yet
but I know for a damned fact it doesn’t get easier
but you do get better at dealing with it
you get a little more used to it
and of course it never really goes away
if they’d told me that at seventeen I guess I’d likely be dead
so if you’re seventeen maybe don’t read this but
I’ve learned a few things since then
even if sometimes I can’t even remember them myself
and one thing I’ve learned is that even if you live
for a hundred years
you’re alive a very short time
and you’re dead a very long time
so better make what you can of being alive
you’ve got to try
every once in a while even
just a little bit even
you’ve got to try
you’ve got to.

I’m of the opinion that those who give advice are usually
telling others to do what they themselves
didn’t do

that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

Letter To Myself/Ravings

Years ago
I remember
I wrote myself a letter
to be opened at some distant point in time
one long since passed by;
funny how the future seems to become
the past without ever really
being the present at all
it just barrels along too fast for anyone to keep up
and that’s why I never opened that letter
which I’d fully intended to read on the date
the date I’d arbitrarily chosen for reading that letter
but we’re two different people
my past and present selves
and not two people who’d get along
no, if I could speak to myself in the past
or pose a question to myself in the future
I wouldn’t
I wouldn’t say a fucking thing
because what I’d say to me at seventeen
if I could think of anything to say
would fall on deaf ears that
don’t know that
they can’t hear
and anything I could ask the future
couldn’t be answered—
not in any way I’d understand.

Maybe this is what people talk about
when they talk about living in
the moment
and taking it day by day
and those sorts of cliches
but I always figured it’d bring about some zen-like calm
serenity state of self-secure sangfroid.
No, another concern just slides up to take its place
like hydra heads springing from severed stumps.

There’s no winning since
all the players die first
the game beats itself
when no one’s left alive to play
and then it ceases to exist
for a game is no more than the people who play it.
I guess that’s why life itself is one game I don’t play
to win.
It’s rigged every which way
and it always wins
I don’t.
I guess the reason I play at all is that I’ve always done it
I can’t remember any different
and I often think about how I can jump to my feet, overturn
the table
draw down on the dealer
contact range, base of skull
crack
turn, level the pistol
toward the door, crack
crack crack round the deadbolt
bring my boot-heel to bear upon the mechanism and
run off into the night
but where would I go?
and what would I do?
I’ve got a sinking feeling that there’s
nothing past that door except nothing
so I’ll keep quiet and I’ll keep playing
keep losing, keep losing, keep the piece in its holster
dealers dealing, doors barring
medullae and lock cylinders intact.
I have a vague, sinking sense that there’s
nothing, nothing better out there.

Besides, the room is warm
the company’s not bad
the drinks are cold
and I’m losing with
utterly impeccable style
which in my experience is
much more memorable than merely
winning.

I haven’t read the letter, don’t intend to.
I’m too busy keeping busy
for
that.

Honestly

You asked for the truth
and I don’t think that’s what
you’re hoping to hear
but I’ll tell it anyway.

It’s true–
living is so profoundly
difficult
and death probably isn’t much easier
but we’re alive, for now
and we’ll die someday
and everyone else will, too
and truthfully I couldn’t tell you whether
I’m in love with you or not
or even what love feels like
but I don’t care.
If this isn’t it, then I’d die happy
having never loved at all
because I don’t ever want to feel anything
except for the way I feel
right now.

If that’s not love
it’s goddamn close enough.