Arts & Culture » Culture

When We Both Looked Like Bukowski and The Legends I Built All Let Me Down

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by Matthew Olzmann, Hamtramck

I was led to believe by now I'd be famous, or simply
Unemployed & incoherent with at least one healthy
Narcotics habit hiding in my past

Or up my sleeve.

This was before I knew how it felt to hold a man back,
Three stories up, he was determined to die
His eyes went blank & his feet were

Slipping on the ledge.

I remember asking my mother what she wanted for her birthday.
She said, "I used to ask for good kids." But Mom,
You've got great kids!
She smiled,

"Now, I just want honest kids."

On Sunday mornings, my neighbors hurl beer bottles
Until they hurt. It's a weekly ritual attempting to prove
The American myth is alive & kicking with

A weak bladder & a bad liver.

In a past incarnation, I stared at my reflection ’till
It went blind. I dreamt my lover covered me
In crushed lotus petals & called me Barabus.

I've never been to Disneyland.

I'm not sure if I can scale the walls, but I was
Born in Detroit, where it's always possible to catch
A quick glimpse beneath your skin

Pulled back by a universe of pins.

The rats ’round here get thick on last week’s garbage.
If you listen, you can hear them: Them humans
Are just as scared of you as you are of them.
Walk close enough

& they'll scurry away.

–Matthew Olzmann, Hamtramck

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