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Joe Thompson Dec 2020
I have stumble danced across the threshold of memory
Into the museum of personal mythology,
Where the actual has been replaced by representation.
Images of images -
Ossified narrative abstracted and streamlined
through repetition
With each regeneration introducing new elements
And loosing old
As they evolve
Into a synthesis of truth and lies and misrememberences -
amalgamations, the component elements of which
Are fused at the molecular level.

I have heard that the originals still exist
Locked away and archived in the unlit basement of my mind.
But I am comfortable with these
And doubt I would recognize those.
Joe Thompson Dec 2020
I am streaming some old Jazz (Mingus, Duke Ellington, The Modem Jazz Quartet) 
From my phone via bluetooth
As I drive
To the store
When my brother Dave's ghost
chimes in:
It would sound better coming from a long play stereophonic record, he says. 

No doubt, I tell him
Surprised that I am not surprised
That he is in the car with me. 

We call it vinyl now, I tell him
I think he nods
Though I can't really see him. 

You know, he says, it is all about the intervals and the timing.
We listen for a while, then he says :
Something nobody really understood about me 
Is that I was a jazz improvisation
While I was alive.

I think, this makes no rational sense at all. 
Though I don't say it outloud, my brother responds:
No, it isn't about being rational
It's about the intervals and timing. 

And suddenly I understand him in a way I didn't when he was alive. 
I love you, I say
But he's gone
Jumped to an unexpected note.

But perfect.
Joe Thompson Nov 2020
Someone left a barrel of laughs
At my front door.
I was suspicious, of course,
Not knowing who sent them
Or where they were from.
So instead of opening it
I crouched down and put my ear next to it,
Listening - to guage what sort of hilarity might be contained within.
Guffaws might indicate cruelty.
A self satisfied chuckle might be ironic.
A mwah haha would surely indicate - well, I think that's pretty obvious.
Were they the laughs of a person
With nothing left to loose?
Or the laughs of a person
Who knows knows he can only win?
Were they the happy byproduct of joyous celebration?
Or the giggles of a child who feels anxious and embarrassed?
A few of each, perhaps,
All jumbled up together.

I looked up to see my neighbor
Standing next to me.
Seems It had been delivered to the wrong address.
He rolled the barrel over to his house where his family didn't waste a second before letting them all out.
It was total laugh-fest over there.

****, I could have used a good laugh.
Joe Thompson Nov 2020
Long forgotten in poems and prose
Are the tribulations of a person’s toes.
Perhaps the likes of the great Ulysses
Are all afraid that they will sound like sissies -
If, in a battle full of strife and woe
They should take a moment to say “ouch, my toe!”
(though no one thought twice to hear Achilles squeal,
"I can’t go on - I broke a heel")
So go on and whine if you stub your toe -
be like: “this little piggie went to battle - Yo!”

- joe thompson
Joe Thompson Nov 2020
When Fangirl and her husband opened their comic store downtown
she had already been diagnosed with cancer.
But we didn’t know
She was all smiles and excitement -
her secret identity.
It all seemed so colorful and you didn’t notice the halftone dots
unless you looked closely.
When she died
all those colorful dots
seemed to melt or wash away.
Her husband kept the store running  
as long as he could
but the shop - the comics
the toys, the displays
were her
and not her
and finally he had to let it go
because in real life, things end
and don’t come back.
Joe Thompson Nov 2020

Once, as a child
I sat alone in a tree for most of the day
Listening and watching
Trying to understand the invisible threads
That tie us all together
My mother in the house
My brother in another city
The neighbor mowing his lawn
The woman singing to her child

Later in life I learned that on a quantum level
Particles can be entangled
And continue to influence each other
When they are moved apart

More than a century before
Whitman said this:
Every atom belonging to me
As good belongs to you

This is the genesis of all hope
In these strange times -
This knowledge that even separated
By distance and walls
Politics and religion
Lies and truth
Continents and oceans

We are still connected
All of us
Joe Thompson Nov 2020
4/8 /2020

Most Americans stayed indoors
With their hand sanitizer and bleach
While The Supreme Court
Made voting a game of Russian roulette
John Prine
Joined Hank and Woody
In the Tower of Song
Another 1,800 people died
While the president worried about his reelection
a lot of brave people put their lives on the line to help the sick and dying
I just want to Scream
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