I have friends who only call when they want to get high,
and I love them,
and friends who find it distasteful to look me in the eye
and I distrust them.
I have good friends who,
wish me to stay away from their girlfriends,
and girlfriends that want me to be their friends first and perhaps only that--if they’d just consider it soberly…
But I have so few friends
that just let me be, acknowledge my essentially grotesque nature and move on…
to trust that I will return this trust;
The friends that listen
to my twaddle and my profundities
with equal interest,
where are they?
They scamper away like thieving little monkeys, I’ll tell you,
with the cheeses of my heart stowed in their fanny packs,
bent on gossiping
and dragging my shining name through the rivers of selfish pus
that form their
daily awareness of things.
To my fragile, even baby-bird-like psyche,
all friends are never permitted to be
more than a predictable disturbance,
like flight turbulence,
or a temporary but amusing fit of flatulence,
like a congressman's record-entry statements.
These: the qualities and acts of Real Friends as I suspect friends are in the business of possessing and performing:
Number 1. The generous passion of Listening
to others and believing fervently for minutes on end
that those Many Words are often meaningful, and specially meant for us
and beg our respect and quiet,
accompanied also by those keen looks of affable concentration
that signify deep attachment and curiosity,
or just attentiveness
---but only the the Real Words---
rather than our chopped gibbets of the
stammering yammering impatient ego
impose on quiet space and fill it mercilessly
like dim arrogant radar pings
with constant, dull self-exploration and
a bouncing of the theme back toward oneself, always oneself,
in every confession a question heard.
(I rub my eyes when watching others talk sometimes, trying to erase the image of snakes casually flinging venom into one another’s ceaseless yapper,
and of evil, conceited children
miming the barren techniques of marriage or congressional debate.)
we fucking talk and talk,
many of us, rarely listening like nice people.
Number 2. Though it’s a cliché, having the spine to tell
me when I am a low bastard and maybe why, precisely
Number 3. Avoidance of the gentlemanly urge to
bugger one another---formally or from behind---in matters specific to reputation, sex and money.
Number 4. A determination to keep one another’s ego from dominating in a senseless, negative way, in many cases called “giving advice,” and less often referred to as a sleepless indulgence in a philosophy of solipsism.
Friendship sometimes is
contentment being a rubbermaid, a receptacle for other’s excess, overburdening thoughts,
placed there confidentially in the form of the rant and the interminable whine,
the myriad insecurities, furtive fears and banal resentments
that comprise the good friends’ deepest concerns.
Friends trade bitterness like baseball cards, but always value their own bitterness much more.
Again, though, we must agree that this symbiosis is
in a very capital way
also the peace of being an asshole, indeed, of embracing
the inner stampeding asshole without
worrying too much about being loved,
of knowing that one’s own bosom chum is hip to one’s own
self-involvement and pretense,
and doesn’t recoil too much, observably.
When you offer love to a despicable cad, that is
the greatest friendship.
The saddest thing about most friends, mine at least,
is that they can’t match
the open-hearted brilliance of my own friendship,
they cannot approach it, you could say,
for it is like the glory of Zeus,
Great God of Lechery and Release, when
He gave the Olympian phallus to the grape God’s mother, Semele:
It is so brilliant, my loving friendship
leaves them flaked and burnt…!
I mean to say, partly, that in the eye of many of my friends
Glimmers nearly always as a faint enduring pulse
the past rancors and contempts
both my awkwardness and my goodness
has formed in their hearts,
and I have trouble loving them because they will not forget
or accept my elaborate foibles and charms more often.
They forget too much
that I am meaningless and unworthy of their spite,
somehow they have been misinformed that I matter.
Empathy is rarely rewarded anymore,
save with a sneer and a kick to the groin.
Friendship is a simple usurious exchange
not hard to comprehend,
feign or avoid
and yet it is with exquisite craft
made a mess of,
and eagerly lured into alleyways
again and again.
….when that gloomy bitch, Romantic Love,
whom the informed recognize
as only the chemically enhanced,
sociopathic, yowling, terminally ill older halfsister of Friendship,
constantly racing about
with the glittering hypnosis of sharp knives in her hands,
when that villainess happened to thrust her greasy bosom at me one year recently,
“get back you trite, soul-crimpin' scoundrel-beast,
you fickle fucking harpy,
I already have enough warts and wounds
to disgust the lepers,
and untricked and haughty I laugh at you as I laughed at the children who laughed at the poor children in grade school for wearing parachute pants beyond their fashion. I laugh at you from above,
and my spit takes days to reach you.”
Where, instead, is Friendship?
I prefer the thing.