At 38

The movie the Great Escape plays perpetual,
an empty screen playing my heart,
a fixed portrait of childhood,
here I am waiting anxiously
for a youthful Steve McQueen to grace across
my teenage hormones on his motorcycle

Jack Lemmon still lives in the apartment
passing his key to the executives,
standing out in the rain until everyone has gone.
I stand out in the rain too,
until this place is exorcised
cluttered with the things I was unwilling
to leave behind

I memorized Shirley MacClaine’s part,
with aplomb
the naive girl stuck loving the older married man,
hating herself,
attempting suicide as an interruption
to get rid of the ugly girl no one but Jack could love

waiting for a consummation that never happens,
entering middle age with lots of red streaks,
like red ink for all the answers that were wrong,
I want the bad memories to be cut out on some editor’s floor,
the good memories to be videos on an oak shelf
so I can find the sanity I must have misplaced,
so I can rummage through this mess I have made,
that has become a great junk pile that has become deeper with time

I need Steve’s rebellious smirk, it meant I was safe,
the little girl who still slept between her parents,
the partition separating their anger,
but the walls of my flesh were paper thin,
and I should have been a sponge to absorb their animosity,

I demand my youth back
the perpetual smile that would never age,
if I could have saved the images of my mother and father
under the same roof,
drinking life through the same straw,
now how do I keep my body in one piece?
when they went in separate directions one day
the experience of their divorce sawed me across the waist,
and my center floated away,
the umbilical cord escaped me,
The universe became this long dark road without any choices,

At 38, I crash landed into this aging body,
the years spiraling out of control,
I rushed through the atmosphere,
a meteor, too fast to have actually lived,
to this present hour I write,
people don’t believe that the slower time moves
the faster the hours actually go,
running us up to catch the destinations of the others

How do I escape this old woman?
who worked too diligently in corrupting herself with sharp objects,
I did it to prove that I was here,
like mutilating a tree to mark the places I had been,
and I want to travel back into the obscure cell of my childhood,
to squeeze through the bars that rusted on my flesh,
these bars I wear across my arms like Holocaust numbers
and I must shed them,
but I must not shed them.

Sometimes the illusion of living is like that
being shifted from prison to prison
from doorway to doorway,
exchanging one prison set of clothes for another,
it is one incarceration upon another,
an on-going sentence for crimes I wasn’t aware I had committed
I’ll try to lead you through the stripes
which have become twisted roads inside,
the occupied places guarded by barking dogs
and barbed wire,
the extreme ghettos that hide so well they are invisible,
and the edges I worked so hard in sculpting
now are so severe they cut every day,
and I don’t bleed anymore,
bleeding is for amateurs,
and once you learn how to acupuncture yourself all the time,
a sort of anesthesia finds you and rolls through the veins most of the days
with or without your consent you sleep walk through living to avoid it

The world has become numb,
because its become stilled,
and the prayers believers like me recite,
the words that never get to God’s ear,
but stay stranded on the tongue
burning with the things you don’t want Him to hear or know,
and the blank pages of a file you wandered the globe to throw away,
the identity you gave to some ostrich
who buried its head to keep you obscure,
and the eyes behind houses are always watching you,
and upon trees and rocks always judging the secrets intended for God,
the constant prayers whose urgency has become steep,
steep mountains to overcome,
and the years become deeper and more mysterious
until every man is an ocean,
a turbulent host to a myriad of storms rushing to embrace anybody’s body
and nobody’s,
these brief affairs that come as waves crashing
those momentary encounters that beat the shoreline,
regrettably unable to return to itself,
I can’t go back there yet I must

But you continue to keep the stranger beings beneath the surface,
hugging vigorously the thorns that have become an abusive spouse,
my scabby knees have passed on its splinters
onto my hands as children,
and children born into such unions are scissors in the womb,
learning that pointed personalities control their parents,
and my child has learned domination as an art,
the unlucky genes some families are born into
those cursed people like generational werewolves,
and the children born into “side shows”,
the ones termed “freaks”,
the ones left behind in their cages understand,
and look out into the apathy of the crowds,
and the well meaning gazers who poke their broken wands
through the bars to examine us,

And I have taken my cage around with me everywhere,
afraid to abandon it,
as a close relative,
full of memories,
rich with its own baggage,
and the cage is like a concierge,
preventing death from taking my room away,
at night I curl up with a two liter diet pepsi as a bottle of rum,
to suck on the plastic as a nipple,

I am vigilant,
an owl in a tree,
breathing in a forest to keep from going extinct,
I cut out hours as pictures to bury an album
as a shallow grave to say good-bye,
without having to break out of this cage,
as a womb,
without being flushed out again,

I sit still as an aging embryo,
an unborn fetus awaiting execution,
my eyes shut tight to avoid the sterile scissors
that won’t let my body pass,
I lay down on the floor of this body clinging to it,
as I would my mother’s pregnant waist,
until God has pulled me out with the forceps
that scarred my skull,
and now thick hair like a forest raining over the mistakes
my parents have made

At 38, my curves have lost their razor edges,
my hips more swollen and round like pieces of fruit
having lost its urges,
having knifed me like grapes from a vine,
and I lay sprawled out learning what a raisin knows,
losing the enthusiasm and fresh vigor of youth,
my body has passed so many truths,
20 lbs have not kept me warmer
than the skinny woman who owned a rib cage only a year and a half ago.


At 38

Matty B. Duran

Joined July 2009

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 8

Artist's Description

I wrote this one in response to almost becoming 40. I thought back on my life, on the difficult childhood I had. I wondered if I could ever get back there, and fix my parent’s marriage that ended in divorce.

The Apartment

The Great Escape

Artwork Comments

  • Reynaldo
  • Matty B. Duran
  • Pamela Phelps
  • Matty B. Duran
  • barnsis
  • Matty B. Duran
  • Eric  David Lough
  • Matty B. Duran
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10% off

for joining the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.