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Keeping His Mind Straight

So I never had a proper mentor,
but I did see Sales Training
and Success Expert Tom Hopkins
on television one night.
He said, “Yesterday is a bucket
of ashes, throw away the ashes”—
I thought: that man in a suit can sell,
thought that’s not a man,
that’s a phoenix—and he’s right,
what else can one truly do
with ashes, &c. But it didn’t last.
Real and metaphorical amphetamines
age your skin so fast. I could only
keep my mind straight with the television on,
watch people exhibit classes,
preferences, fashions. Look at my
screen now, Michael’s singing,
he’s a classic, that hat, those sequins…
he’s only ever been like that,
we’ve only ever been like this,
watching each generation die off
the last to insist whatever age
each face has reached, it’s new
at being that age, too. And every
little identity is a trap.

John Deming is Editor in Chief of Coldfront and his latest chapbook is 8 Poems (Eye for an Iris Press 2011). His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Fence, Augury, The Best American Poetry Blog, Verse Daily, POOL, The Agriculture Reader, Tarpaulin Sky and elsewhere. He lives in New York City and currently serves as Writing Center Director at LIM College.