Expecting Rejection

                    Never give the audience what it wants,
                                        make the audience want what you give.

i. Loss of Self

                    a. Love/Hate

          Strangers talking about love prove how
not having enough causes one to succumb to
gossip, that speaking against its flourish keeps from
          experiencing its nourishment
those who thirst and hunger for its taste, burning for

                    its lips’ painful stain, making of its poison’s ink
                              an insurmountable myth, a script
                    no magician’s discordant mouth or quickest mind,

no matter how difficult to pronounce their choice
          of words, or potent their dark working’s
invocation, or pathetic their broken heart’s
supplication, can voice without sounding forced and
          insincere this loneliest desire’s

                    underlying fear, my own course nearing its curse,
                    expecting rejection, I end up spending on
                              this obsession’s pursuit an unwise

investment of inner wealth, abusing my Self
while misusing my talent, damage undoing
          every good intention’s attempt
at establishing lasting credibility
or anything resembling a reputation,

                              quaking integrity’s foundation
                    by writing and selling miracles, publishing
                    a life sentence for simony, lies my body

          of work promises analogous
to prostitution, indentured servitude to
bored rooms full of suits fuels arguments few mention
          again, or when questioned by the press
about a project’s inspiration, truth dismissed,

                    b. Addiction

submissiveness and ugliness things better left
          unsolicited in an aging
industry where being perceived as aggressive,
as a brazen and depraved new rebel, relieves
          board members of their burden, serving

                    culture to an attention-starved world uncertain
                    if their herd has heard it all before, one thing less
                              to groom, one less li(n)e of a bio

to have PR firms neither deny nor confirm,
losing one’s sanity a career move for those
          of us for whom our madness is both
a blessing and pandemic, relentless and an
unexpected benefit, this existence on

                              the fringe an intrinsic, almost god-
                    given, form of marketing, as effective as
                    it is subversive, a built-in stage-presence out-

          performing and out-selling some poor,
impure soul’s imminent obsolescence, having
a daring persona at once alarming and
          rewarding to those most impatient
shareholders, and anxious old executives, more

                    apprehensive than interested, arm’s-length and
                              cautious at the prospect of getting
                    to know it as a person, or crossing a hot

product, whose hardwired potential for crossover
          success is just too perfect to risk
with weak illusions of friendship or happiness,
this is, after all, still a business, however
          unusual for those with feelings.

ii. Mistrust

                    a. Acceptance

          With poems redeeming me as if
verse were currency and personal narrative
the enemy, failure not an option but self-
          destruction encouraged and tempting
when it makes one so much more interesting, my

                    characters glaring at me as though I were some
                              latter-day Mary Shelley, all my

Frankensteins uncertain if they should exalt or
kill me, called a monster, antiheroic, and
          a dick, anything but a saint yet
profitable, filthy, rich, and miserable,
Byronic in that respect, buying its cheap thrill,

                              defiance never settling its bill,
                    never predictable, not until channeling

Hamlet, when I let my father’s murder haunt me,
          my creations less fictional, and
more fitting than reality, when what is real
seems so underwhelming in comparison to
          imagination’s realm, nightmarish

                    hypersensitivity’s blind aversion to
                    public interaction raising suspicion when

          my third-eye’s low-brow, no-profile style
of high-minded and mindful living, my craving
solitude and silence, not recognition, goes
          against my contract’s provisions and
for its bold contravention’s gross contradiction

                    b. Adaptation

of social norms, official interpretation
          reprimands me with political
correction, an expectation of rejection
preparing me always for war, to battle hard
          potential censorship’s harsh blizzard

                    of perpetual winter, hell worse than frozen
                    accounts, its chilling effect that never having

          widespread acceptance takes from my pen
any hesitation in saying whatever
the fuck I want, oblivion less a threat than
          a corrupt government’s laws making
examples of citizens too intelligent

                    to swallow its pills, those malcontents and firebrands,
                              adepts more than capable themselves

of becoming radical change’s powerful
symbols, even deprived of a tongue, a man can
          still kiss, whether rushing with fresh blood
or the ashes of literature’s pages, bled
of their ancient languages’ enduring substance

                              by blunt rhetoric, where the river
                    runs, revolutions flood hands and heads eager to

take-up freedom’s weapons: dangerous ideas
          and their renegade expressions, words
blowing minds without ever firing a gun, songs
redefining the sound of silence as one that
          threatens those who expound violence.