by Robert Eugene Rubino
When you’re the one who leaves, you’re cold-bloody
kindly, efficient as surgery, or butchery,
calm capable confident, you’re best-selling
guru of self-helping “Compleat Con Man.”
When you’re the one who leaves, you’re smug
bonfire-building book-burning bona fide thug
muddying memories, rewriting history
Ministry of Truth’s employee of the month.
When you’re the one who leaves, you’re fierce
savage destructive. You rip out
rear-view mirror, you stomp
accelerator. Bat out of hell. You’re infamous.
When you’re the one who’s been left, you’re left
in a blink up a creek armed to the teeth
with angry sorrow able to bend real with bare hands
unable to grip hard truth only righteous regret
self-respect so suspect there’s no food no sleep no break
painfully self-pitying terrifyingly weakening.
When you’re the one who’s been left, it’s earthquake
tornado universal fiasco, you’re askew awry
you’re uncool victim chump fool starring
in grand opera comic opera soap opera
unwanted role in surreal script. It’s nothing
if not memorable awfully like nothing else.
Robert Rubino has published creative nonfiction in Hippocampus Magazine, fiction in Elysian Fields Quarterly and forthcoming in Cagibi, and poetry and prose in The Esthetic Apostle. For more than 30 years he was a daily editor and weekly columnist at California newspapers.