Once upon a time
When life was simple, youth seemed eternal
And truth could be found in a dozen different bottles,
I considered myself to be a wealthy man,
Good-looking in a smooth, Nordic way,
Suave, popular, oversexed and undercool,
Straight A's, expensive clothes, a brand new car
And all the other insubstantial niceties
That took the place of love.
Once upon a rookie year
We paid our dues and made the grade,
Practiced loading and firing -- the art of survival,
Counted collars, tickets and holiday speeders,
And played God at least ten times a day.
Mistakes by the dozen; some small, some large …
Like that night in the alley -- the boy with a gun --
When I froze like a statue … and you didn't.
I saw part of you die with him that night;
Your 'first' in the line of duty,
And I remember you threw up all over my new shoes.
Then you cried. And I cried with you.
Once upon a partnership
We cruised the streets in your garish car,
Told ancient jokes, pulled crazy stunts,
Talked shop and sex and girls and shared our future dreams;
Played Batman and Robin with the low-life inhabitants,
Turned the filth of the city into our own private domain,
And in those sewers found garbage and hatred and bigotry
… and Gillian … a once-in-a-lifetime lady.
You tried to warn me, but I didn't (I couldn't!) listen.
And when she went away, a part of me went with her.
I remember I lost my head and hit you.
Then I cried. And you cried with me.
Once upon a nightmare
I heard you fall and gasp in pain, blood spurting
Crimson wetness on the callous, littered street,
And I rode with you through our dark domain
Talking on and on of things that didn't matter.
(Knowing you couldn't hear me even if they did.)
I prowled antiseptic hallways,
Feeling broken and old and useless,
Old memories flashing by like bits of crumbly celluloid,
Blurred imagines, all -- coalescing into crystal …
Your face on the stretcher, a strangled mask of death …
Once upon a sleepless night
I paced and worried and soundlessly screamed out my anguish
Wishing … futility wishing … it were me in there, not you …
Then feeling guilty and ashamed of myself
For wishing this kind of pain on you …
Waiting for someone … anyone … (Please God!)
To tell me that you haven't gone and left me behind
To stare at the pieces of my shattered soul
That I won't have to say another premature goodbye,
Ponder the waste, the grief, the empty years ahead,
And that I won't have to go back to the way it was …
Once upon a time.
Once Upon a Time