The Future Was A Secret That Winked In Their Eye Once

eating pizza in the dark

I didn't really think that everybody made it when I was a kid.
I kind of did, but not really.
Still, I kind of did, though.

I used to hang out with these people,
and I had this idea that we would be quietly famous.
One day in ten or twenty or thirty years,
we would look back and write about the things we did,
like Kerouac and all the beats.
Our time together was the beginning of some kind of history.
We were each a point around a boundary
that would one day describe our movement through creation.

But we don't all make it.
This is all we get,
and that nice boy who did terrible things
died from too much junk,
and that other one who drank
ended up tied to a bed in a clinic, unable to walk,
and that one who let his seedy connections seed him with cynicism
allowed it to steal his belief.
That is it. That is all.

Maybe that's why we invent saviours.
We can think that the ones who don't make it
still make out in some way, even when they don't,
like Jesus could have done it for all of us who won't.

Some people just stop moving,
or they stop lifting their feet when they shuffle forward,
or they live like they're twenty until someone calls them mister
and there are no new places for them to go,
or the drugs eat them through,
or the girls eat them through,
or their families eat them through.
One almost made it, but her mother got old too fast,
and she gave it all away to sit indoors and tend to pills and stool.
The pills preserved nothing,
and I secretly dreamed she would smother the woman with a pillow and be free.

I'm almost forty now,
and we really don't all make it.
People fall into little holes they don't get out of.
I love you,
but we don't all get to recreate genesis as we run.
I don't know why.

There is no word for this:
what it is to look into the face of someone dear,
this person you once loved like a baby,
for we were all both mothers and babies back then,
and to see that this face has had all the quiet fame go out of it.
The future was a secret that winked in their eye once,
and now they're all edges that won't let it in.

They've forgotten,
and we are not so great.
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