Scoundrel Time

The John Doe Poems

John Doe at the Funeral

Not a mourner just a bass player
backing up the family on Will
the Circle Be Unbroken
nodding my head in prayer like
I mean it like I believe it and
almost I do when I watch Chummy get up
and Big Steve and A.J. all these old men
weeping over the old days when they
were bad boys in cars careening
down gravel roads or parked
behind the IGA with a fifth
of Canadian rye or kissing girls
they never married or they had to marry
or they wanted to marry those same old
ladies sitting next to them now and rolling
their eyes or speaking a hymn or crying a little
and squeezing their old boy’s hand thinking
you poor fool look at us
look at us
with our engines still running

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John Doe’s Threnody

because I bought the blue plate I built the shed I fixed the faucet because our children became beautiful curious sad because we moved to this faraway land because I have no friends you’re my only friend because we use the same voice when we talk to the cat because your body is warm in the night because remember the house we rented long ago next to the train tracks because we have no money because I hate my job because I’m lonely you’re lonely because you never listen you always listen you tell me what you think you lie to me because I cannot bear your happiness your tears because once we saw a half-grown eagle fly below us into a chasm because our dog has grown old and feeble because I can’t stop drinking because I like to drink because you make me drink because you don’t care you care too much you invent fabricate prevaricate because you fall asleep at nine because you wake up at three because you could fix everything if you tried because I’m afraid because I never thought I’d miss the bus because you because you because

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