real life

the dozens of living swans
seem amazingly like the real ones
I know from Disney
    from plastic and concrete in the old woman’s yard
    from childhood picture books
I had never seen a real swan
    aren’t they supposed to be in a lake
    don’t their necks form hearts?
    where is the music
        the symphonic swell?
And here they are digging for slugs in a field
    they are lovely
    but not like the real cartoon.
The snow tufted evergreen trees
seem amazingly like the real ones
I know from childhood holidays
    they look green
    they look cone-shaped
    and they are even flocked!
I had never seen a real living tree
    with actual snow
    with green needles
    the shape isn’t as perfect
        as our artificial tree was.
Yet here they are laden with snow
    thousands of living trees
    but not like the real Christmas ones.
My actual wife
seems almost like a real woman
I know from magazines
    from movies and television
    from adolescent fantasies
I never had a real woman with me
    wasn’t I supposed to chase her at the last minute thorugh the airport?
    somehow our arguments don’t seem as funny as the TV ones.
    who knew it would go on for 20 years?
Here she is and she loves me
    the feel of her real lips
    is like nothing I could have imagined.
My life my day to day existence
seems very different not at all like
the real lives I know
    the action hero lives
    the buff and brilliant shirtless guys
    the rich and powerful who never work.
At a certain point
    all my potential
    had to become a real decision
    in a real house/job/marriage/friendship
Here I am laden with history and mistakes and successes
    none of which have I ever seen
    in the life of a celebrity.

The philosopher steps out
    has a look
    with a look
        of astonishment
    steps back in
        arms waving
        feet stomping
        singing talking crying laughing
    the crowd
        irritated and interrupted
        turns and twists
    to see the flickering shadows
    on the wall.

Posted in Poetry and tagged .


  1. Jim, I landed on your blog from a FB post of Betty's. In my opinion your poem is uplifting, thought provoking and simply amazing! Thank you for sharing. I was lucky enough to have Betty as a teacher in elementary school, and remember how much she always talked of you in class. Knowing her meant knowing you. Congratulations on twenty years. Here's to many many more.Blessings, Christi Barron

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