Poetry: Selections from Damian Rucci

You Never Realize You're Dancing Alone Until the Music Stops 

and you’ve been living in some kind of  mirage
playing dominoes with the devil 
you owe the sonofabitch about three fifty
but you both know neither of you are 
good at paying debts, the machinery of night
is the only music you need, the demons are on
now dropping from your shoulder to circle 
the room taking bets and hollering 
you don’t even think to leave the table 
all your angels must be on vacation or worse
have left your side to stay up all night 
with better company, who’re you to judge?
You’re on, you’re here now, the fire in your belly 
is out but you have lightning in your veins
sinister breeze on your scalp and a cock that could 
cut diamonds, but you’re girl is tired of your shit
too, asleep in the next room, your mama 
always told you no good man is awake at 3 am,
so what does that make you? Flipping tiles 
chain smoking cigarettes and haunting the house
even ghosts have an ambition to scare, you’re
a shell and the devil will leave you too as the sunbeams
wake the goodhearted from their sleeps
you’ll be walking to that same gas station
to get the same pack of smokes watching the same mothers
send the same kids to school and you will walk back
alone to sleep while the world is awake again

Anyway What I Meant To Say Was Fuck You

and fuck every crooked star 
that guided me further away when I was just looking for home 

and fuck every cobbled stone I stumbled over drunk

and fuck every dial tone that rang haunted 
when I tried to call out for help 

and fuck every poem that isn’t about me 

and fuck every girl who thought my heart was like an instrument 
my love is a brushfire if left unattended it can burn your fucking house down 

fuck the lies I webbed to preserve your mornings 
fuck the parking lot; the highway, the junkies 
playing percussion with their galloping hearts 

and fuck every whisper that sang of my sins
I sold the blue bird in my chest so we could eat 
the damned and broken already toast to my triumphs 

fuck the drugs that kept me from heaven
and fuck the drugs that got me there 
and fuck every sinister orgasm at three am 

fuck all those people who said we been living wrong
but they don't know how angelic and skeletal
we looked in your rear view mirror 

fuck every night I stood on the shoulders of giants
and fuck every morning id find myself again in the earth 
and fuck every hope I had to be among you 

fuck every  person who slept warm while I shivered 
the whole night through 
the only thing that hasn't abandoned me are my habits 

and fuck them too, I want to be pure as snow 
I want to walk with God through the ghettos 
and sink my teeth into the flesh of providence 

fuck every sunbeam that met my cursed flesh
fuck every songbird at six am that reminded me
I wasted another night chasing ruin 
fuck every dead artist I praised as a martyr 
fuck turning 30 I'm too old to die young 

Another Skeleton To Step Over

Diogenes could never tell 
the difference between the bones
of the slaves or of the kings
and what makes me any different?

The stories I carry in the shadows
of my bleeding heart aren’t novel
the cross I carry on my back is second-hand
I picked it up to see Missouri sunsets and rot

I walk the asphalt Via Dolorosa looking 
to feed my habits, my crown of thorns
is a crown of jackals, I’m never at peace
only when the moon hangs high 

and my memories play out in the shadows
vignettes of a past I’m not really sure of  
times when the breeze blew gentle 
on my back and laughter cured it all 

but I’m still walking, the houses I pass
are monuments of joy I will never reach
the people in the windows sit down for dinner
they toast to another evening, I look away 

I sing poesy and kick cans towards my undoing
the prodigal son returned and nobody cared
I sent myself to exile and came back a stray 
just another skeleton to step over 

another skeleton waiting to turn to dust 

Damian Rucci is a touring poet from New Jersey and the author of nine books of poetry. He is the founder of the NJ Poetry Renaissance and focus of the PBS documentary Voices in The Garden. A twice resident of the Osage Arts Community in Missouri, Damian has spent the last ten years bouncing around the country performing in universities, bookstores, dive bars, basements, and tattoo parlors. He is the host of ten poetry series including Puff Puff Poems and Poems & Punchlines.