by David Spicer
regret not writing this sooner.
regret not applying better parental skills toward my eleven cats.
regret I didn’t travel to the Galapagos and their 200-year old headless shells,
Ireland to hear a barmaid’s lilt singing Danny
to temples of chanting Buddhists in Thailand,
to cracking icebergs of the Arctic.
I regret my shy nature,
its reluctance to engage with train station strangers.
regrets could fill an Earth-sized bowl. My regrets could be yours:
you steal a candy bar and get caught? Did you French kiss
and regret it because they bit you? I did and I don’t.
don’t regret slugging my father in the mouth the last time he pushed me.
don’t regret catching my mother telling yet another lie.
don’t regret showing my twelve-year old brother a Playboy.
Did you ever sneak a peek at a nude sunbather?
regret not watching I Love Lucy when my sisters giggled.
my humor would be more raucous.
Maybe I’d possess
a Shih-Tzu’s impatience with his human.
Then I could
tolerate shrill voices that haunt my sleepwalks.
regret disliking rap music—except for Ton Loc jiving Wild Thing,
I regret selling my off-the-wall
record collection to a dealer,
I don’t regret buying double
that number of cd’s because I’m
an audiophile who hears the
silence between a country singer’s notes.
don’t regret blasting the Byrds’ Turn,
Turn, Turn in the dorm.
I regret I didn’t study as diligently
as many students—
not reading more Milton, Yeats, Dante, and
Now I regret not reading younger poets—their
insights may surpass mine.
One night I pointed a gun at my brain
because my father hated me.
The gun called me a coward. I didn’t
pull the trigger: I don’t regret that.
I don’t regret avoiding the
draft and dodging a Cong bullet.
I don’t regret shooting a rifle
when forced to in the Air Farce.
I don’t regret eating
too much junk food in the barracks.
I regret not
hiking up the Sandias bordering Albuquerque.
I regret my life
was a black hole when I transmitted pilots the weather.
regret I didn’t walk to the off-base bookstore often and read more Ellen Bass.
regret not tattooing a raccoon howling at the moon on my left butt.
regret getting cut from the tenth grade baseball team.
coach said I had the most heart but the least talent.
appointed me team flunky but I quit, which I don’t regret.
don’t regret fronting a guitar player $35 a week after I met him.
repaid me after I nagged him for weeks.
I learned not
to loan money to friends or acquaintances.
Or books, or
records, or movies. Or to borrow from relatives.
regret a coworker borrowed my copy of Atlas
She returned it with her dog’s puke
stain on it, a testament
to the pup’s critical talent. I’m
glad it wasn’t a first edition.
I regret she apologized for her pet’s
taste. I don’t regret I laughed.
I don’t regret never
apologizing for transgressions.
One time I fantasized garroting
an adversary. I won’t apologize for that.
I didn’t apologize for yelling, Spit it out, Scates, when he stuttered
after pulling down a map, and
there she was, Naked Miss June.
I regret farting in college:
more than 20 roommates disowned me.
I plugged up the poots like a
dam-fingering Dutch boy.
My grandmother told me, There’s
more room out than in.
My grandfather said, Pull my finger
and make a wish.
I regret harassing a woman by
saying, Show me your tits.
I regret not
knowing better. I regret I wasn’t taught well.
regret not learning quicker. I did, finally.
I regret my narcissism,
regret not seeing all people are narcissistic.
you regret reading this? Will I regret writing it? I don’t regret
anything. I have boxes and boxes of regrets and non-regrets.
don’t regret writing love notes to women I’ve loved.
regret not writing them to women I could have loved.
regret never having a mentor as a young man,
my old man useless
in that role. No older brother.
I regret gravitating to
males I saw as fathers.
I don’t regret my own counsel. I
don’t regret despising lawyers.
I regret buying encyclopedias
from a door-to-door salesman.
I didn’t need those books, don’t
regret giving them to my brother,
who shelved them in his dark, melancholy
den. I don’t regret
never visiting him, because I’m dead
to him anyway.
Regrets are cotton balls with
Regrets are wounds that don’t heal.
Do you scratch your regrets?
Regrets are lonely shadows that lurk
in my loony brain.
Regrets are grey clouds that reappear
with moody weather.
do I ever approach you like a scruffy panhandler?
me when you don’t want attention like a doting aunt.
do you think people mean it when they send a Regrets card?
you tell me the last time you felt compassion for a victim, Regrets?
I regret not looting a house or pissing on a midnight golf lawn—
feeling the rush through my body like a wheelbarrow of berserk smiles,
running naked through a mansion with a pillowcase full of stolen jewelry,
pissing in the 18th green hole—ah, adrenalin, chock full of maniac energy!
don’t regret heckling a comic, stealing a laugh from him.
called me an asshole and I told him he could lick me where the moon
moan. I don’t regret telling a professor she broke a promise
assigning A students a term paper. She frowned like Medusa
I didn’t turn to stone. I don’t regret murmurations, darkening skies,
regret the sea rising, I regret my old girlfriend doesn’t call me,
we haven’t slept together in decades so she isn’t my girlfriend.
regret I haven’t seen her. But I don’t regret marrying the One.
must be a god of Regret. Give me a second. I’ll Google that.
Imagine that. I don’t regret Google. I regret Facebook and Twitter:
parrot ranches. Imagine the gods of Twitterers and Frienders,
everything and everybody amazing and awesome in Greek or Latin.
do and don’t regret flunking Trig three times, I don’t regret not getting an
I love my lack of an MFA. But sometimes I do eat a regret
morsel like a cracker
crumb off the floor. I regret my lousy study
habits. I don’t regret the lack
of discipline to snag a degree
that means I’m a sellout. I do regret my sour grapes.
played air guitar one night alongside Bloomfield at the Fillmore East, regret
strolling to a Village hotel with a streetwalker who said, Hey Babe, want some fun?
I regret not
losing my cherry to that pro I didn’t know.
I regret losing it to my uncle’s
woman after he
egged me on to fuck her. I did and he dropped her like a dead cat.
regret never sailing on a boat. I could have imagined Ahab pursuing Moby Dick,
men scurrying like fish, like manic clouds after they boarded their ship helmed
a captain who loved the sea but hated the whale more. I don’t regret
continent-sized oceans and the thought of drowning. Have you ever sailed?
I regret not telling my father he was a redneck Buddha
slob with spaghetti gobs in his gut,
standing toe-to-toe to him the minute I grew taller than him. I regret I had no finesse
as a child,
lived inside my body wishing I could escape. But I wasn’t Houdini, was I?
I’m a prisoner in my body but have no regrets.
Regrets are fools I no longer love.
I regret endings
must happen. I regret I’ll die some day. I regret I don’t know
Death is. Do you regret that? Will you and I meet in the heaven or hell of regrets
and guzzle boilermakers
trading regrets like kids with boxes of blemished baseball cards?
Or will we suck black air after the alleged white light
and regret having believed anything?
I regret I ignored my dying sister, a force of nature,
the wind refusing a cowboy’s rope. I wish
I had visited her, but I was a sad owl lingering on a lonely limb.
Do you regret reading this?
you a sad owl? Do you regret dark sins? Like that tree swaying with the breeze that’s
the ghost of
your vanished lover? Is there something you don’t regret? Are you human, too?
David Spicer has published poems
in The American Poetry Review, CircleStreet, Gargoyle, Moria, Oyster River Pages,
Ploughshares, Remington Review, Santa Clara Review, The Sheepshead Review,
Steam Ticket, Synaeresis, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere. Nominated
for a Best of the Net three times and a Pushcart twice, he is author of six chapbooks and
four full-length collections, the latest two being American Maniac (Hekate
Publishing) and Confessional (Cyberwit.net). His
fifth, Mad Sestina King, is forthcoming from FutureCycle