For the better part of 26 years, I’ve been told to go to school, to get an education (ie: a college degree). I’ve been told I’ll make more money, that I’ll be happier, that I’ll be more successful. I’ve been told to follow this path by teachers, preachers, mentors. I’ve had it drilled into my head that if you work hard enough then everything will somehow magically work out for you. The most personal of all these advisors was my father. He told me to get my degree, to become a doctor or lawyer or some other high paying 6 figure career so that I wouldn’t have to work night shifts in some shitty factory job for all my life like he had to. So I wouldn’t have to sacrifice my youth or my body to be able to barely make enough money to support a family, especially when mom got laid off. So I listened. I began my love / hate affair with the academy pursuing a degree that I’ll never be able to pay off. For nearly 7 fucking years I worked on that god damned degree, working shitty jobs to feed myself and pay my rent because my parents could never afford to help out. For nearly 7 years I hated myself. I dropped out not once but twice because I could not handle it. Couldn’t handle the pretentious smugness of faculty members, of professors, of papers detailing and describing reality that are so far removed from real life, from hand to mouth pay check to pay check living. Couldn’t handle upper middle class white kids getting bribed by their parents to go to college, wasting everything away on frivolous fucks and drinks and hedonism. Couldn’t handle middle class culture or middle class christianity or middle class norms. So I finally dropped out in a bitter moment of frustration and cynicism two months from getting a degree in philosophy despite the many protests over how foolish I was, over how stupid I was, over how lazy and irresponsible and arrogant I was. I dropped out in order to survive, to be alive and full of joy and experience life. I went to school because I was told to, but I dropped out because I had to. 

Oddity 

I’m always doing something, SOME THING, that the people around me find odd, like going for a walk in -15 degree weather to feel alive, or reading during a church service to feel holy, or wanting to weep when a middle aged black man comes up to me asking for change and I have to turn him down because I don’t have any money on me while all these people in this goddamn coffee shop just shrug after he leaves and go back to their conversations over coffee, just shrug their shoulders and forget about this man regardless of whether he’s a panhandler or not, irregardless of the courage it takes to come into a white middle class setting to beg for money, to beg for a chance to be human, to beg for a chance to be alive. I should have offered to buy him a cup of coffee, but unfortunately I’m far too often caught up in my own smugness mixed self loathing of forgotten pasts and pains that I don’t think of these things until it’s too late, too late to offer life to a stranger, too late to offer life to someone who lives on the fringe of acceptable society so instead I will just sit here, sit here wondering why in the midst of my weeping and I will sit here write about this man with his courageous melancholic eyes and his worn facial features fraught with the sorrows and joys and hatreds of life that I can never know, and I will pray to whatever gods that be that the next person he encounters will give him that dollar I couldn’t, will buy him that cup of coffee that I should have, will weep with him instead of for him, will do something, SOMETHING, that the people around will find odd, even if the greatest oddity is not treating someone human. 

Life isn’t fair 

I learned at a very young age that life isn’t fair, that the world just keeps spinning no matter what the fuck you do, that we are all just little specks of emotion and meaning and worthlessness and I learned this the hard way at the bottom of a bedroom hideaway, hiding from an emotionally abusive and bitter cynical mad as hell father and I did what I had to do to survive and I shouldn’t feel ashamed of it no matter what the norm says, and goddammit why shouldn’t I be angry at the world for just one minute, why shouldn’t I be angry at the injustice little fictional Ernie Levy suffers from and why shouldn’t I be angry at the injustice I’ve felt and why shouldn’t I be angry because God doesn’t exist or maybe because he / she / it does exist and maybe doesn’t care, and maybe if my father wouldn’t have told me that I was useless and wouldn’t be able to be successful at a university because I couldn’t do anything practical but think think think for hours at a time, days and days without physical activity and that makes me a lazy son of bitch cock sucker then maybe I wouldn’t have dropped out of school, maybe I wouldn’t have estranged myself from the dying / dead Midwestern small town farming generation that I feel connected to yet am no longer a part of or estranged from a millennial white hipster culture or the intellectual academia smug smug smug against the reality which bears down upon them, which threatens to destroy them yet they continue to ignore it to find truth, truth outside the real world of lower middle class families struggling in the aftermath of post modern post industrial post farming life, struggling with unemployment and drug abuse and ignorance and maybe I wouldn’t be so angry at my own god damn self and all those the demigod Holden called fakers because I feel myself chief among them, chief of the fakers and the sinners and the ugly and all cast out by normative positive culture and sometimes I’m just so sick of the pretentiousness of art I’ve tried to so vainly and ignominiously to install myself into but really all I want is to be left alone, to be left alone to work at a shitty little job and go home to a shitty little house and smoke shitty cigarettes while I drink shitty brandy, because if I don’t have that I have nothing, nothing to fuel the raw emotiveness that I so desire, nothing to fuck for or love for or experience for, nothingness begat into nothingness because life isn’t fair, it isn’t fair for the factory owner who complains about the worker who is lazy and doesn’t understand or for the little Jewish child whose only crime was to be alive so the penalty is death nor is it fair for the little boy who hides in a closet from his father’s rage, because life isn’t fair, and the world keeps on spinning, and the sun keeps on shining, and the winters never seem to cease despite their coldness, despite the hopelessness of being alive, despite the miracle of life itself. 

I weep

I weep for my ignorance
I weep
because of my continued presence
in systematic racism
in systematic sexism
I am guilty
Perhaps more guilty
than every Hitler
that has ever lived
because I do nothing
in the face
of my inactivity and ignorance
I do nothing
I do nothing but weep.