Noel Negele

The Mayhem of Our Youth

Sure it had its appeal—
that time in life
you were so unbelievably young
you were almost
legitimately insane—
and yes, looking back
at all that degeneration 
was a thing to behold—
the nonchalant 
and mindless
booze consumption 
and drug intake and
the countless stumblings
from whorehouse
to whorehouse—
and all those girls 
even wilder than you 
on your wildest—
naked, pale girls 
leaning over the plate
on the nightstand 
to take a good line
of Devil’s dandruff
as their breasts dangle
like firm but ripe fruits

Yes, the frenzied
drug-fueled nights 
with the one-on-one fights 
that made you beat your chest 
like a Gorilla
after it was done
or the group brawls
in slumping bars
under a shower of broken
beer bottle shards—
Yes, the dripping bloody
faces of people 
you had never met before that night 
and the knife threats
the knife attacks 
the Molotov cocktails 
against riot police
because you’d read Bakunin 
back then 
and because you were angry 
and willing to hurt people

Yes, you were lucky to
get out of that youth 
scathed but very much alive

And the older I get and
the less I bullshit myself,
I’ll admit I never did have
the stomach for all that 
and it never even came close
to filling that black hole 
in my heart
that always remained
and felt infinitely empty
and there’s no more absolute
than infinitely empty 
and no matter how many people
I pushed into that hole 
the love attempts 
the literature
the intoxication
the anger
the affection
it made no difference

But now,
much older than then,
I’ve stopped dropping 
things into that hole 

Now, I’ve learned to live with it
Now, sometimes I’ll look 
deep into that hole—
and the deeper I look
the more probable it becomes
that it might not be so empty

Now, I am much older
and the thought of that lost 
and misplaced youth 
sounds loud to my ears,
it sullies my peace of mind

Now, I sit on my porch
and drink the first cold beer
in weeks 
because I promised myself I would
on the first day the temperature 
would reach thirty degrees
and I stare at the tree tops
swinging with the warm summer
breeze and notice the sound
of a particular twig 
that sounds like a creaky door 
with each mild gust 
and I think of my steaks
marinating in my fridge
the whole day now 
and even though I’m hungry 
I light a cigarette and wait
until I’m famished 

And I look deep into that hole
within my bloated heart
and realise 
I haven’t heard Edith Piaf
in a long time

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