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John Charles

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Cambridge, MA, US

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Salvation

by

John Charles

Salvation is a teardrop
In your eye when you are happy
Salvation is a smile
When skies are grey
Salvation, a lump in your throat
As heart is pounding
Being alive
And actually knowing it

Let us take our salvation
And share it with others
Who need it too
And perhaps one day
The world won't need salvation
No need to save
Either me or you


Tears

by

John Charles

Saw a contradiction yesterday
That made me think
Big Hollywood movie
Insignificant guy gets shot three times in the water
Brutually murdered
And then it's on to the next scene
No tears at the loss
Not a single one
That day also brought tribute to a US soldier
Killed in Afghanistan
Not on the big screen but in real life
A horrific event with the sad fanfare it deserved
Proud father, proud mother
Lots of tears
Perfect son with a beautiful family
That is no more
Awful, tragic, heart-breaking
We must keep crying
Yet my mind kept taking me back to that fictional character
And his horrific yet unheralded end
But he was not the central character in the story
Just as so many people
That are shot in America on a daily basis
Are not central characters either
Yet they must be central to somebody
They must be
And that should never be ignored
Even if it is a no-name character in a big Hollywood film
With family and friends
Or a street punk
Whose mother loves him
Somebody should show the world their tears
Every time
Since seeing those tears on the big screen
Or in real life
Over and over and over again
Could overt the tears of others

First Class

by

John Charles

Feel like a convict as people glare at me
While I sit in First Class
But I am glowing inside
They are probably not glaring at me at all
But happy guilt twists my perception
Feel like a champ in First Class
Soft wide seat, gently reclines
Pilot calmly chats to someone in front of me
As I slip naturally into the scene
Successful young executive in a polo shirt
In First Class
Fat stomach temporarily forgotton
For I am a First Class fellow
The snakes and ladders of life
Sure has me rising up the rungs today
Years of trudging to the back of the plane
Glaring at some fat sod who unjustly resides in First Class
While I happily accept the myriad of reasons
Of why I am not
Are now over
For I have Silver Elite status
Elite
Elite meaning First Class
Beautiful

OK, the flight is over and I sit in the night-swept airport waiting for my luggage
On the carousal which will bring my precious cargo
That must have been stolen already by some bugger
Just on this earth to ruin my evening
In my haze I look around and see other people in theirs
No harm in their eyes, no secret agenda
Just one common goal
To find their way home
Then I realize that we are all indeed First Class people
Locked in the struggle of life
We all go to the plate
In one way or another
And receive the pitch
On rare occasions we hit the ball out of the park
Other days we miss everything thrown at us
But we gamely plug on
And there is always something First Class
To be gained out of victory or defeat
Faceless strangers surround me
Living their meaningful lives
Just trying to sprinkle their own particular brand of joy
Onto others whether it be many or few
For we are all First Class
Back of the plane and front
Because in reality
Position is meaningless
Unless you allow it to be

Guarding Ones Real Estate

by

John Charles

Got an empty seat next to me on the plane
No one else has
But we havenít taken off yet
So its tense
In come the first set of late arrivals
Threatening my sanctuary
Fumbling their way up the narrow aircraft walkway
Awkwardly maneuvering awkward luggage
While peering intently at those vital numbers
To find out where they can park their backsides
And there I sit with my precious empty seat
Watching these interlopers like a hawk
A very anxious hawk
Hating them as they edge their way closer to me
Loving them as they walk past
Forgetting them in their entirety as my gaze shifts to the next in line
And then they are all gone
And my empty seat remains
Bigger and more spacious with every passing moment
As I watch the unfortunates jammed in like sardines
I am dangerously close to feeling like a winner at this point
But we are still on the ground
Where evil fate can still make a grand entrance
So I brace myself for the inevitable disappointment
But today is mine
The plane pulls off
And I lounge contently across two chairs

Over-Worked

by

John Charles

A prisoner
Trapped in the cell you created
Success the supposed key
In fact the strongest lock
You can see through the bars
And watch life around you
Distant memories stir
Of things you are not sure happened
Because they donít compute
With your now reality
Ironic, success is associated with ambition
As you sit squarely in your cell
Those four invisible walls closing in
But you canít escape
Because escape frightens you
Since captivity has long since
Provided you a security
To which you have become accustomed
Like a long-term convict
At the end of his sentence
Freedom has become terrifying
Despite the bitter emptiness you feel
Captivity the blanket, freedom the cold
Yet you are still numb
As you sit in that cell

What Are Words Worth?

by

John Charles

What are words worth
From an individual
With his or her own way of looking at things
How valid is their opinion
When it is precisely that
Their opinion
Seasoned from years of experience
Their experience

Can people relate to the words I write
Because they are my words
And not theirs
My dreams, my pain
My thoughts, my interpretations
Most likely unique to me

Do I understand the hopes and sufferings of others
Though I do not share it myself
Do I understand peopleís opinions and ideas
Even though I may disagree with them
Have I ever changed an opinion
Had an idea
Alleviated someoneís suffering
Or cultivated somebody elseís hope
Because of the written word
A thousand times
Just like everybody else
And thatís what words are worth

Dog Day Morning

by

John Charles

People in the US donít really all have guns
Or else there would be wholesale slaughter on days like these
Weather so humid you canít see through the haze
Every traffic light red
My typical "f***" quotient for a trip
Exhausted within the first couple of miles
With this delightful backdrop I enter the auto-dealership
Broken car in need of repair
Who needs to run drugs if you can get into this business
Well-dressed brutes man the computer
Perfectly willing to take you
Whatever way they find you
Either timid, beaten by the system
Bemused by those large numbers on the price board
Or alternately feisty at those very same numbers
Where emotional response
Or flash of anger would doubtless
"Make their day"
But these gangsters are extremely professional
Very polite as your hard-earned cash prepares to depart
To a much better world
And the purchase of much better toys
A drowning man I take my seat on death row
And wait
And wait
And wait
For the final outcome
The beautifully air-conditioned room freezes my anger
Even the tears have dried up
"They have this down to a fine art"
Methinks hopelessly
So after planning mass murder such a short time ago
In that oppressive haze
A chilled "Larry the Lamb" meekly pays the bill
And departs the scene a broken man
Full of pointless calculations in his head
About how many days of honest toil
Will reverse the hit he took this day
And suddenly the haze is no longer oppressive
The traffic lights are all green
As the straw man sadly drives his way home

Anne

by

John Charles

The very first time I met her
I knew I had a friend for life
Our eyes sparkled at the same time
Eyes that mirrored the soul
We come from lands very different
But people are always the same
So when you meet a kindred spirit
You always remember their name
Anne

Little things in life
Are actually really big
So when I walk through that door
No more than three times every year
And find what I am looking for
That lovely smile
Then thatís a piece of San Jose
That will always be a part of me
A little thing perhaps
But unbelievably precious
Anne

The Pudgy Boy

by

John Charles

The pudgy boy sat on the hard chair
And watched the world move around him
People seemingly with purpose
Performing seemingly vital tasks
While he sat motionless
His mind moving at the speed of light
With so many ideas
That they all collided and died

The pudgy boy believed in an answer
Even though he truly didnít know the question
And this is where is his problem lay
He would dream his dreams
Conscious they were exactly that
And again all his hopes collided
In his heart
But, luckily, hope never died

The pudgy boy thought perhaps love was the answer
While sadly reflecting that hadnít been the case in the past
Since love required sacrifice
And the pudgy boy wasnít very good at sacrificing
He noticed with interest that others
Who were not good at sacrificing either
Seemed to encounter similar problems
The pudgy boy lamented that it was far easier
To recognize the issue rather than solve it
But, as previously mentioned, hope had not died
So he hoped for the day he could give unselfishly

I guess that pudgy boy exists in everyone
Since everyone has at least one question, one desire or one hope
That flutters in the breeze like a butterfly
Evading capture from the invisible net
Or at least I hope they do
Since if I am facing these issues alone
Then, doubtless, Iíll get even pudgier


Addiction

by

John Charles

Sat here struggling to describe the feeling
As I try to break an addiction
Or at least knock it on the head for a few days
Cigarette addiction in this case
Nicotine addiction
Itís day two
My throat is dry, bone dry
My articulate English accent
Is now raspy
Very raspy, like Joe Cocker
Who doubtless had a few puffs in his day
I have never been more conscious of my chest
Than now
And every other time I have tried to quit
Every contour is defined and then emphasized
By the raw, tingling sensation
Associated with smoke trying to escape
From every pore of my rib-cage
I am out-gassing poison
And I can feel it
Clearly feel it
In contrast, my mind wanders
Not focused on anything specific
Just flitting about nervously
Like something is wrong
And something is
Weirdest thing is when all these sensations combine
Suddenly you have clarity of thought
One thought
Go and buy cigarettes
All the sermons you have delivered to your family and friends
On countless occasions
Each time you try and quit
About how you will slay the dragon
Puff the nasty dragon
Come crashing down
As your brain seeks desperately for justification
Of the upcoming failure
And justification it always finds
Since all your different body parts
And associated nervous systems
Are screaming at you
Screaming, Screaming, Screaming
"Buy the damn cigarettes!!"
Since you can quit again easily
Tomorrow
Sometimes you can pull out of this vicious tail-spin
Like some heroic World War I ace
But even the Red Baron eventually got killed
After one too many duels in the sun
Capitulation leads to a dizzy relief
Followed by dizzy disappointment after the first drag
As you wonder what the fuss was about
Since the cigarette tastes horrible
But, magically, all is much better in the world
Despite the horrid taste in your mouth
And you are much more "yourself" again
And itís a very pleasant surprise
Augmented nicely by the second cigarette
Which rapidly followed the first
And tastes much better
Much much better

Incan God

by

John Charles

As I woke up
In Lima, South Peru
I thought to myself
"What shall I do?"
Its modern times
No horses to be shod
Perchance the locals
Will think I am an Incan God?
And carry me around
Hoisted shoulder-high
While I shout wisdom
Unto the sky
I wondered how long
I could sustain this lie
And hoped to God
That Incan gods canít fly
However quick look in the mirror
Revealed the truth
Pasty complexion, round waistline
And faded youth
Would once again provide me
A royal pain
Since I, in fact, resembled
King Phillip of Spain
Not so good
As instead of a religious thinker
Iím the spitting image of the man
That murdered all the Incas!
So from a God to a tyrant
In the blink of an eye
Yet hope springs eternal
That the bloody mirror doth lie

Race For The Cure

by

John Charles

Two little girls walk by
With the red No. 7 on the back
Of their England shirts
Beckham
Just like those two poor young girls last year
In Manchester
Before they were slaughtered
How can someone do this?
How can someone look at innocent human beings
In distress, frightened, crying
And end their lives
Picture two young girls in front of you
And you murdering them
While they are screaming
You cannot
You are filled with a revulsion
That cannot be measured
You canít even imagine saying something
To take the smile off their angelic faces
Yet someone did murder them
In Manchester last year
And murdered everyone elseís faith
In any kind of humanity at the same time
Why?
We must be made aware of the reason why
Even though it is a foreign tongue
Indeed, completely foreign to any kind of civilization we know
Because without the diagnosis
There cannot be a cure
And we must race for the cure
To end these absolute abominations
We read about far too often

Indecision

by

John Charles

Indecision cuts deep
Like a sharp kitchen knife
Good, adieu
To that carefree old life
Your heart is in pain
Boy, it doth aches
Because you have no bloody clue
What path you must take

You feel so pathetic
You feel so weak
In a ever-growing puddle
Self confidence leaks
And its no crumb of comfort
That deep down inside you are knowing
Itís a very normal emotion
That you are showing

Once in this abyss of indecision
So hard to climb out
Quiet, pensive demeanor
But your innards scream and shout
As "Yes" or "No" answer
Continues to remains elusive
But you have to choose one
As the self-doubt is far too abusive

And when answer is given
Whatever it is
Immediately your head arises
Out from the mist
Relief literally pours out
From all of your pores
Happy to face the consequence of opening
Or closing one of lifeís doors

In the Gym

by

John Charles

With power and grace I enter the gym
Or so I did think till I had trouble getting in
That old oak swing door was rather heavy you know
Or so I did think till the young girl gave it a go
And at that point it was where the humiliation did start
But I am here to get fit so I will not be of faint heart

I sat at the equipment and started to flex
Visions came quickly of me with big pecks
But just as I was about to get in the groove
I realized with horror the weights would not move
I looked down bottom left and what did I see
That some muscle-bound numb-nuts had left in the key
"They really are idiots" thought deary old me
As I quickly removed it and set the frame free

From there was unleashed a powerful display
As I racked up a hundred and grunted away
Disgruntled was I when calls of "Sweet Thang"
Started coming my way
And the lady next door remarked
How difficult it must be to be gay

In a huff by now I hiked up my tights
And look for the next apparatus
To display all my might
But my ego had been given a terrible fright
So I grabbed my copy of "Interior Designing"
And slunk off into the night

Four Beers Leads to Bravado

by

John Charles

Four beers leads to bravado
And a raking piss
Hopes of that loving telephone message
That I never missed

Iím trying to return to bravado
In the now cold and empty night
But bravado quickly faded
When there was no flashing light

The Undead

by

John Charles

The ghosts were whirling around the aircraft
At break-neck speeds
Wailing like banshees at the people in their seats
People who couldnít see or couldnít hear them
So it was no wonder that the ghosts were really pissed off
What did these ghosts look like?
Classical really
Which was no great surprise seeing as I had created them
Bearded faces of elderly men transposed onto small white clouds
About three feet long
Which zoomed around the cabin like Go-Karts
In total there was three of them

Naturally these ghosts were being wise after the event
Just as they were in life itself
Screaming at deaf passengers, one after the other
Chronicling their sins like a judge passing sentence
Followed up by a generous helping of pious pronouncements
Such as "if only", "you should of" or some other type of nonsense
Capricious advice which those ghosts would never have followed
While they stood on solid earth
Must be a real pain being the undead
I quietly thought to myself

Heartache

by

John Charles

Its dreadful when you have no clue what to do
Do you phone, e-mail, send a card
Or just play it cool?
Act like you donít care
Act like there are others
And even if there are
You know they donít matter

She matters
Because she makes you feel this way
You hope not
But you know better
Something about that face
That smile, that laugh
Memories of the heart
Resonate in the head

And the fear that eventual success
Cannot take place
After the exile she has imposed
Reigns
But not supreme
Because an affirmative response
To any one of my childish ploys
Will, please god,
Let me ride that roller coaster of love
Again

Zhivago

by

John Charles

The classical music played
And somehow I was Russian
In a time long past
Dr. Zhivago, perhaps?
Or some other character
That the orchestra had released
Inside my head
The operatic voice spoke of despair
Though I knew not why
As her language was not my own
It was feeling
Simply a feeling
Her voice echoing that of a heavy heart

The haunting music wreaked of age
Wreaked of memories
Wreaked of decadence
Sad reflection of better times
Where reflection wasnít necessary
And then the music tempo quicken
Dramatically
As those heady times reappeared
Where everyone was singing and dancing and drinking
And thinking of the moment
Because they were not thinking at all
Just laughing and bathing
In living and loving
And my heart was pounding
As I struggled to keep pace with the exhilarating sound

And then sad refrain returned
As day had again become night
And joy had become longing
For the unconsciousness of the past

Dťjŗ vu

by

John Charles

I had seen this man before
Many times
I couldnít remember where
And I couldnít remember when
But I had seen this man before
A non-descript man
Middle-aged, chubby
Yet significant through his smile
His friendly smile and the sense of happy calm
He bestowed upon me
Time and time again
In places all over the globe
Similarly, we engaged in non-descript conversation
As we had all those times before
Forgettable an instant after his words
Had gently, so gently, collided with my ear-drums
But the soothing feeling these words brought forth
Was not forgettable
Since they reminded me of our previous meetings
Seemingly always at a moment of personal crisis
Crisis which considerably lessened upon our parting
For reasons I never clearly understood
And yet did
Sometimes angels have the best disguises