No One Is Serious When They Are Seventeen
by Dustin Pickering

No One is Serious When They Are Seventeen…
wrote Rimbaud. But I ask,
serious about what? About romance?
Certainly. All of us like to play at love
when we are young.
At seventeen, I was neglected by the muse of longing.
She visited me at night
and touched my face with a feather,
and when I awoke she fled my heart.
I loved deeply for a young man.
My heart, as a poet, was drowning with love
and I was religious about a girl at school.

She was one of the candidates for Homecoming Queen.
I saw her at the game and wished her well.
When the winner was announced, it wasn’t her.
I cried, “No fair! I demand a recount!”
The girl didn’t like me, but managed a curt smile
when I saw her.
Then I read Rimbaud because Jim Morrison
told me to. A poet writing about damnation
could not be too dim.

I left home, finally, after graduation
because I did not want to work.
I wanted a year-long break from all activity
but my folks wouldn’t give it to me.
I ran away and moved in with my friend Alex.

I read him Rimbaud. Most everything
I was enthusiastic about didn’t impress him.
The Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, and Crass.
But he loved that line, “No one is serious when
they are seventeen.”
Except me. At least I thought so.

PHOTO: French poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dustin Pickering is founder of Transcendent Zero Press, a Houston based publishing company. He is author of Salt and Sorrow, published by Chitrangi Publishers in India. He is published in Texas Poetry Calendar 2016, Cavalcade of Stars, Pyrokinection, Dead Snakes, and others.