Poetry: Selections from Steve Grogan

Only Inside
I’m crying
but only inside
where it doesn’t count.
I’m massacred day by day
by 1,000 tragedies
that no one else wants to see.
I am doomed, I am doomed
to the blurred vision
of this lonely room.
Memorize a million hat tricks
in a colony of the blind.
Learn a thousand songs
in the land of the deaf.
It’s no use to confess.
Age has tarred & feathered me
with numerous sins
that I can’t let go,
whose guilt I cannot escape.
Four corners in this place:
which one will be
the address of my exile?


Time to think now.
A chance to write something new.
Once again, my hands are untied.
My mind is an empty sky.
I am ready to fill the stars in,
to put them where they belong.
All your thoughts are memories now
so I don’t bother to use them,
nor would I ever just toss them out.
First, I would analyze their meaning.
Tear them apart and rebuild them.
Find out if they were ever beautiful.
(What am I writing?
Oh, that is such a classic, clich├ęd question.)
My eyes were never turned inside out
so I was unable to see
or learn the truth that
everyone else has been shown.
Although I’ve known you forever,
you might as well be a stranger.
Every day your colors continue to flicker.
They remind me…so long ago…you…
it was you.
You were marked,
you were scarred,
you were being torn apart.
Not me! I was not a loser!
I didn’t need to apply a glaze to my eyes,
did not need a substance to handle life.
Sometimes waking could do the trick.
It was all I needed.

Now we eat the laurel leaves
that Apollo might have lost,
or maybe they never were his.
We could not devour the bark.
…trancing out, phasing out…
My only guide is not your god.
Keep going lower and lower and lower.
My legs keep crumbling.
Men could have been handsome.
Women could have been beautiful.
Ah, too bad the world has gone sour.
Everything is too strange. 
My skin is turning blue.
Sunlight is as gray as dust.
The world is a dead end.
The old man beside me whispered,
“So are we, my son.
So are we.”

Ode to Bruce Lee

Hey, Bruce,
how’s it going where you live now?
You never knew me.
I’ve been watching
how your muscles rippled like water
when you used to swing your fists.
My body is all clay,
just enough muscle 
to perform daily functions.
Hey, Bruce,
I feel like I know you.
True, we never met,
but your personality closed the distance.
Then, of course, there is
your intercepting fist.
It has intercepted my life.
We were both artists who
hacked everything away.
Just like you, I will still be
hacking away when I die.
And how soon will that be?
Hey, Bruce,
I think about you a lot
because one question puzzles me:
how can a specimen like you
be dead, barely in your thirties,
yet a lump like me
keeps plodding on,
currently ten years older
than when you passed?
People tell me not to be upset.
They tell me I should be glad
you were here to give us what you did.
Hey, Bruce,
people say you were ahead of your time.
How many centuries must pass
before we catch up to you?
You know what stings the most?
I still hear people insulting the Chinese, 
as if everything you did never happened.
When I hear those narrow-minded fools,
tearing the arts apart, my spirit sinks.
Then I return to you, still amazed 
by how effective you were. 
and my mood brightens.
Hey, Bruce,
I think it’s safe to say
that I miss you.


I know they think I’m plastic.
What can I do to melt such facades?
My flames would scorch those people as well.
I do not want to make enemies.
Each second it takes
to make this end
means that, somewhere else,
it’s beginning all over again.
I’m not focused.
My head is splitting apart.
Cracks separate the skin.
My life breaks,
revealing a jigsaw configuration.
Everything is shattered now.
Please explain to me:
why is “down” considered to be negative
and “up” is labeled positive?
If you’re feeling “up,” 
there’s the possibility 
that you might fall.
However, if you’re already “down,” 
then you can’t go any further.
So you understand
everything can be seen
two different ways.
When you hear screams,
it’s not necessarily because
someone is in pain.
I refuse to believe
that my line of thinking
makes me a depressing person.
I just see things differently,
but you want to change that.

Well, you will not burn me down!
I will not allow it!
Everyone has been safely tucked away.
From their dream-worlds
they will have to learn to deal with
the reality that is me.
Nothing can make it change.
Words are not strong enough.
Your punches cannot reshape me.
People cannot waste my time.
I’m too busy thinking.
Alter this, eliminate that.
Melt everything down,
so fluidity can be maintained.

It’s Called Sarcasm!!!

Pardon me. I didn’t mean 
to get in your way.
I forgot it was wrong to care for others.
Believe me, I didn’t mean to step on your ego
or to worry if something I did might offend you.
I didn’t know it was wrong to not be happy.
(Someone should have told me it’s illegal!)
I’m sorry for thinking
my feelings were under my control.
Please forgive me.
I didn’t mean to care.
I didn’t mean to love you.
I’m only human, and I just figured
if I was given these emotions,
then shouldn’t I use them?
Trust me when I say
if I had known how wrong it was,
I never would have crossed the line.
I never would have hurt you
by being honest, being real, being me.
And as I sit here
bathing in the darkness of myself,
I’m collapsing, I’m crumbling, I’m dead,
because I’m thinking about it
and it’s not clear if you accept my apology.
Can you ever forgive me for adoring you?

Headed Down South

You headed down south to kill a young man.
Needles and insane torture devices armed and ready,
you were going to kill him without a second thought
until I came rushing out of the house, 
breaking through the gate to change your mind.
The sky turned red in your heart, in your eyes,
below your feet, between your legs.
I begged and pleaded, spilling out an ocean of tears so deep that God nearly had to give Noah a second call.
I said, “Why must this be?” You told me,
“Just look at what he’s doing to my life. 
He is destroying it, so I must destroy him. 
Besides, there is no reason to worry about it. 
It’s not like he has a soul.”
To which I replied, “It’s always about you, isn’t it? And who are you, the soulless one, to decide 
if he has a soul or not?” 
But you kept on walking. 
The walls of arguments I built crumbled 
beneath the weight of your stubbornness.
I tried one more alternative: “This young man hasn’t truly ruined your life. Once he comes out of hiding…
THAT is when the trouble could begin. 
You could just turn him loose. 
Send him out into the world. 
Let someone else worry about him. 
So you see, this murder isn’t really necessary.” 
In response you pulled out all the stops, 
dropped your 50-megaton bomb, blasting me to bits
just by saying, “You’re a man. You have no say.”
And I just stood there, stupefied and sickened 
by the knowledge of where you were going, 
as you headed down south to kill a defenseless soul. 
You returned with smiles and kisses for me, 
as if nothing had gone down.
But you never understood or cared 
that when you killed him…
despite my pleas, despite my tears…
you also killed my love for you.

Steve Grogan is from the often-filmed city of Troy, NY. His short stories and poems have been published in several magazines and ezines. His biggest influences are Phillip K. Dick, William S. Burroughs, and Thomas Pynchon.