my lips have gotten larger
my eyes smaller …
memory re-weaving my face

The wisdom I have achieved with middle age smacks of hypocrisy
The little pearls I have strung along my necklace of experience
proving to be mere costume
The water gems roll along the depths still
shifting with the tides
a pitiful game of hide and seek

a mockery of my self esteem

I discover,
like the ancient ordinary that have gone before me,
that I know even less now than I did when I was young
My bravado is Made In China
a foreign garment
shopped out
and ill fitting
I know that, even as I model its gaudy cheapness
and yet
what choice do I have

life must be achieved


The song A House Is Not a Home if no-one’s there
plays its melancholy over and over in my head
Does a house not hold our selves
after the doors have shut behind us?
Do not its elegant blinds hang gracefully
in memory of the time and thought poured into their measured creation
the paint slopped inadvertently
on the floor
a frisson of the wine that accompanied the wall’s colouring?

The house I have built from the foundation of DNA allotted me
hangs on me now like a house with no-one home

I built it with a deck of cards,
every card carefully placed
The faces of Royalty perched on my forehead to ward people off
the Joker dangling from the back of my head
disarming those who come up from behind

The repetition of numbers
royal flushes
patterning my synapses,
pistons weak with the effort
firing now at a hiss after a lifetime of frenzied action producing more of the same

This house of mine
has become fragile with age
No number of calcium pills
or glasses of water
or exercise
can camouflage the thinness of my being,
its vulnerability to implosion

Although I am at home in my house
having nowhere else to go
I feel indeed that I vacated long ago

I don a face card appropriate to the occasion
but when I am home alone
with the paint on the floor
the drapes elegantly still in their cradle
the family’s echo watching me in my moment of alone truth
I find myself without substance


My eyes are sewn smaller and smaller
the fine needle prints piercing their perimeters
bagged and bloated with fear’s tears
I look into my mirror
a queen’s mirror
hung over a badly patched wall
and panic

soon they will be sewn shut and the darkness will consume me
my enlarged lips
a gash of memory


I want to drink
every day
I do drink most days
some more than others
I am swimming toward my dark sea

But I have no faith in mythology when it comes to me
I have never found the underworld to be
a kind place

For all the trips I have made there
I am still bereft
Whatever essence of self I may have whiffed over the years
remains cruelly out of reach

I don’t even know what I’m grasping for

my runs of jack queen king ace
are flimsy and
the hysteria of breath
that is me
lost behind their flat façade
will surely scatter them

and then where will I be

Copyright © J.Cockman2006
this poem was a finalist in the Winston Collins Best Canadian Poem contest, Descant 2006