Inscape    number 25 in the 2River Chapbook Series January 2019
JR Layne


Stuck between a block wall and a steel door
I decided to play some rock and roll
And appreciate the irony of my life.

Like a skit on Saturday Night Live,
I find myself fifty years young and
the center of satire.
Picture this—

My wife makes a 911 call and fabricates a crime.
Alec Baldwin portrays the responding officer perfectly,
an uncanny rendition of Sean Hannity.

As I’m being handcuffed he screams Assault!
apparently in memorable pain,
because, it seems, I’m squeezing his hand with
the power of Bruce Banner turned green!

Oh, what a production unfolding.
With my pickaninny kids in the front row,
(who don’t need no father anyway) I’m arrested
for a crime I didn’t commit.

Flash forward a year,
I sit sweating with the foul stench of incarceration.
Fabrication or not, the feel of the cold cement seems real …
this is still an SNL skit, right?

I finally get the punch line—
Blond hair, blue eyes, #MeToo … with "jigaboo" kids!
Plus, she wanted me to love her but I no longer did;
how dare me!

I get it now.
Whew, good one, yeah …
So, what was the joke again?
Can I go home now?

That Hour I was Most Myself

That hour I was most myself …
I cannot recall.
Pleasing the masses
Provoking the fascist
Napoleon had nothing on me.
Upon my reflection, if one must compare,
Alexander the Great was merely a flea

That hour I was most myself …
Hmmm, when could that have been?
A man of the world, a Renaissance fellow,
Elegant, bourgeois, essentially mellow
Amorous, urbane, polished with flare
Classy contrite regal debonair

That hour I was most myself…
Hmmm, is it not so?
A leader, contender, a man amongst men
The picture of courage, the master of Zen …

Wait, no, see not my façade,
Let me continue to enchant you.

That hour I was most myself …
Alas validity has been maintained
Embellishments have waned
There was never such a time
Where one might observe the true self that is mine.
In the depths of despair, where I reside
The bowels of hell, psychologically tried, emotionally tired
A boy who’s deflated, paltry and lost
An hour that I am most myself?
I could not afford the cost.

JR Layne, of part Dominican, part Jamaican/Barbadian lineage, was raised in a privileged community, where his rigorous education included poetry. Later, his poetry was smothered by the less pleasant responsibilities of adulthood. A “rock bottom” chapter in his life reintroduced the power of poetry and the beautifully positive effect it can have on his emotional health.

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Robert Pierce
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