like a kid again

like a kid again
by Michael Jacobs
I think he’s starting to feel like a kid again.
The bad parts of the kid part.
In the bathroom
facing the mirror
he’s naked
hands cuddled
to his chest and neck
looking down at the floor
waiting for the steam
to cover the mirror
his brow emaciated by
some all encompassing worry
berated by his reflection
with its sharp thoughts
which surely must be
unfamiliar to his natural mind.
I’ve seen him stand there
like a prisoner in a concentration
camp waiting for the showers.
He feels like a kid again
sitting in the back row in
another new classroom
pretending to be a mute
so no one talks to him.
Seen him sitting there
a grown man
staring at the
candles on his desk
“they’re not burning straight”
he cried to me
drowning in snot and tears.
Told him
“but look, the wax is dripping beautifully”
and he looked up at me
with the reflecting flames
bouncing inside his pulsing tears
and he embraced me
a convulsive victim
of some unseen emotional nerve gas.
Caught him staring out the window again.
Was gonna ask him about something but
he whispered to himself
these words
“all the devils are gone”
I didn’t bother him.
The following night
I woke up to him
screaming somewhere
way out in the field.
There he was in his slippers
a short sleeved shirt
and thin flannel pants
in the cold dark
feeding a tall fire amongst
the dead grass and snow
with a hundred year old russian rifle
leaning on a dead tree.
He would rip the grass out
with his frozen claws and
lay them in ragged clumps
of dirt and weed
onto the fire
and after each offering
he would look up
into the burning stars or at the cooling embers
but I couldn’t really say which
all dancing around the flames
a drunken
forsaken heathen he was.
And then there was the howling
but the longer I listened
it was more…
blood curdling.
His vocal chords
stretched and snapped
a death fog summoned from his throat.
My God it was horrible.
Didn’t know the reason for it.
Wouldn’t tell you if I did.
Maybe someone wronged him.
Maybe he wanted revenge for being born.
Or he’s just some damned
anachronistic thing
seeking redemption.
Maybe he was challenging God herself
who indeed called the hit out on his soul mate
whom he never even got a chance to meet.
If I were a reason
I would’ve rather slit my own
then be chased by whatever lived in him
that night.
But later he came inside and
he curled into his bed and
began to growl
like an animal.
Next day I tried to take him out
into the sun
but he was too scared.
Told me
“all the elves are gone”
Guess he wasn’t talking about devils after all.
I decided to leave him home.
What’s the point of taking him out if I can’t show him any elves?

0 thoughts on “like a kid again

  1. My God it is horrible. The poet doesn’t need to say it. All he has to do is narrate what this guy does, with power punches of imagery (“and he looked up at me with the reflecting flames bouncing inside his pulsing tears…a convulsive victim of some unseen emotional nerve gas”) to deliver the impact of what he means by a grown man “starting to feel like a kid again, the bad parts of the kid part”. The subject is an abused prisoner of himself, retaliating against who knows what. There are things that could be cut from the poem; egs., all the “he”s, the russian rifle. And what isn’t included–his relation to the poet–we’d like to know. It could have been revealed in the ending, which just fizzles sardonically away. But we know it is ongoing and close, and, for all that is told us, the poet may be as disturbed as he–his prisoner as well.

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