Vicariously

Hello lovelies! I have a long poem for Friday Poetry this week, one rather unlike many of my usual poems. I wanted to try something new, so this piece was inspired by two things: a re-watch of West Side Story, and this quote by James Badge Dale:

"As an audience member, I live vicariously through the characters I watch or read about. There's something very relatable about comic-book characters. They're never perfect. They're flawed people put in extraordinary circumstances."

This piece is very much a story wrapped within a poem, and I'd love to hear what you think! Thank you for being here.

 

Vicariously

he used to go to the library, he did—
said it was because the librarian was sweet
and she had dimples and winked at him
when he slid his books ‘cross the counter
but you know, I think he only said that
because he didn’t want to damage his
sweet shiny spit-slick reputation
he worked so hard to build up
didn’t want to admit to the rest of us
that big tough ol’ Johnny Miller
who could arm wrestle a grizzly bear and win
in two-point-oh-four seconds flat
had fallen head over heels for some
measly little words

used to bring back big thick books
with loud melty colours on every page
said they were by some weirdo called
warhol or pikaso or somethin’ of the sort,
I dunno, not like I could really care
‘cept the way he said it was like
like he just wanted to climb into those
paintings and stay there forever and ever
and I sorta wanted to come with him
‘cause those paintings looked kinda cool
all these weird colours everywhere, y’know?
like her hair is purple and the sky is green
and like maybe if I want to I can be
any colour I feel like bein’

and he told me about some chick called juliet
used all these big hoity-toity words like
thee and thine and wherefore art thou romeo
and who the hell even talks like that anyways?
but he got somethin’ in his eye ‘fore he finished
tellin’ me ‘bout that story—
least that’s what he said, but I ain’t no fool
saw him later tryin’ to scrub water off his face
and his nose was still sorta red when he came back
I woulda said something ‘cept no way am I
gonna mess with Johnny Miller who can
beat a grizzly bear at arm wrestling
in two-point-oh-four seconds flat,
even if he lives more down in those
big books of his nowadays
than he does up here with us in the real world
and ‘sides, I mighta got a little somethin’ in my eye too
‘cause I kinda thought maybe juliet deserved
a happy ending

I asked him once,
asked him how come he liked those
weird ol' books so much
and he looked at me for a little and
and you know what he said?

he said
because he wanted to live,
even if he only got to live vicariously
and then he walked away
and sat on the fence and looked out
at the stars a bit 

I dunno what vicarious means—
but it sounds pretty cool
like maybe it means you get to 
stay in those big ol' books
and talk to warhol and pikaso
and romeo and juliet
and I dunno, maybe he's got a point there,
and maybe one of these days
when he opens one of those books
I might wanna jump right in with him
and try livin' a little vicariously myself.