Joshua Mehigan – Sad Stories

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"Don't stop 'til you get enough."
                                         —Michael Jackson


No one is special. We grow old. We die.
In silk pajamas, in a pretty morning
glimpsed through Venetian blinds
, joy even now
might sometimes visit as it used to. Bright
hillsides of early June, mockingbird song,
the highest button of your shirt undone;
a road along a beryl stream, both glinting,
the road already warm, the stream still cool—

I met a barmaid once whose fingernails
were very long and varnished white. Years later,
I saw her at a restaurant. She'd gained weight.
Gathered around her eyes was disappointment.
From almost every fingertip, as long
as if she'd nurtured them that whole time, grew
a varnished claw, curved inward, like a sloth's.
Couldn't she see how those betrayed her most?

Somewhere your true love walks ahead of you.
And, every day, your injured scarecrow's face,
threadbare disguise, recedes. The surgeon says,
"Sometimes the enemy of good is better."
Who hasn't seen your eyebrows answering always
"We are amazed"? Your widening sanguine eyes
or noble jaw, past pride and compromise?
Botulin, hydroquinone, alkalis

I knew a man, once, in his early eighties
who in his teens had danced for Balanchine.
He was a brilliant raconteur and gossip,
and we tried not to stare at the toupee
laid on his head like rusty steel wool.
Which of us could have told him? Then, one night,
we saw a picture from a newspaper,
Paris, June '39, himself onstage,
beautiful, in a tour jeté.

                                       Outside,
a zodiac of poison eyes is rising.
The mobs that cheer beneath your balcony
are dying to be you; you're dying not to.
Bright children wonder what it's like to be
the child of a macabre emergency
locked in a lavish room above the city—
paradox and cliché of royalty.

I saw a movie once about a prince,
extravagant like you, like you eccentric.
But he became a savage autocrat,
ordered the sun to rise, and raped his sisters.
One bust portrays him in his musculata,
with empty eyes, but also with the injured,
sensuous lips and forehead of a boy.
"Remember only what you leave behind,"
the young prince might have counseled you. "And when

our life, this passing unendurable fever,
a world of pain, a glint of joy, is done,
bejeweled, in fine silk, you will emerge a god."
He dreamt, one January, that he stood
in heaven by the throne of Jupiter.
Then, suddenly, he felt the god's right boot,
then felt the earth against his cheek, then woke.
The following day, his own guard murdered him.

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