I want to care — I want people to think
I do — I really give a shit
or maybe I think I’m supposed to care — It’s only a phantom
all that guilt-driven shame — the constant harping
heaped on me — dosed in good measure
by a well-meaning but fascist parent — applied with “love”
comes to fruition — leaving welts
late in life — on tender skin
Too late? — “Not enough,” I scream
The “what is” and the “what should be” — unnecessarily
wage war in my crimson thoughts — But they do make it seem like
I really really don’t give a good goddamn — at times
about much of anything others think of me — yes, not even you
yet I still act like I do — understand completely
Am I in control? — A lack of empathy
Or is it she—still? — Shrew-bitch!
And the gray elephantine weight of it all — Bearing down unmercifully
colors and smothers my every labor — crushing any effort
to write, speak, move, feel — to love!
If I could drive a stake — with abandon
through the heart of darkness — to the hilt
I would—ending it — forever
Rick Dale has a D.Ed. in Educational Administration from Pennsylvania State University, and is a professor in the Special Education Department at a state university in Maine. He is a Jack Kerouac enthusiast who plays bluegrass music semi-professionally and enjoys a multitude of outdoor sports. Rick lives with his partner and her two sons—and two cats—on a lake in Maine. The Beat Handbook is his first book.