What happened before 34?

23 Mar


The sound of neon lights

The smell of cheap whiskey

The cloud of cigarette smoke

The uneven floors so sticky.

This reflection of my life

That once bared all of the above

Was all that I had ever known

Naturally, I mistook it for love.

Sleeping on a concrete floor

Used my shirt as a pillow

The grit and grime was so thick

You’d have to scrub with a Brillo.

Paydays would come and go

The routine was always the same

Buying all the alcohol I could carry

Hallucinogenics were always fair game.

To get dreadfully wasted away

“Trying to forget who I was”

Such a crock-of-shit thing to say

I was only looking for the buzz.

When you’re twenty-one or twenty-seven

You can’t claim to know who you really are

Fact is, you’re just a sad confused little punk

Wasting away your youth, haggard in a bar.



© 2018 Joseph Emerson @



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36 responses to “What happened before 34?

  1. The Stories in Between

    March 22, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Brutally honest piece. I’ve been there myself. It’s funny now to look back and realize how completely full of shit I was about most things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joseph Emerson

      March 22, 2018 at 7:03 pm

      Haha right? I think you just come along and find a time n your life where you just don’t care an own up to your bullshit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Stories in Between

        March 22, 2018 at 7:13 pm

        Agree. And another revelation for me was also realizing everyone else is full of shit too. Not a single one of us really knows anything. I think George Carlin had a bit about that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joseph Emerson

        March 22, 2018 at 7:22 pm

        Ok… Good one. Here’s another. I remember getting really sad during a Charles Manson interview when he talked about everything we do is just a mirrored image of something that we’ve already seen before. I got super bummed out when I realized it may be true that there is little to no originality or authenticity anymore.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Stories in Between

        March 22, 2018 at 7:32 pm

        Hmm. That’s a good point. I guess we can just try to be original in the way we present our unoriginality?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joseph Emerson

        March 22, 2018 at 7:39 pm

        Deal 👍 just keep doing what we are doing. I’m having fun. Or am I full of shit? Lol. Oh well

        Liked by 1 person

  2. pvcann

    March 22, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    This resonates so much, it took me back, happily, to those experiences, wonderful

    Liked by 1 person

  3. myloudbipolarwhispers

    March 22, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Powerful words. Nicely done. Yep, I could see, smell and feel that sticky bar floor. lol Great job. You got talent… like I said before. Have a great night. Sue

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dorinda Duclos

    March 22, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    Ugh sticky bar floors. So glad I grew up. Great piece, Joseph.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. boundlessblessingsblog

    March 23, 2018 at 12:44 am

    Nicely written poem, Joseph of the olden days sweating and making things work out in a bar.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. my valiant soul

    March 23, 2018 at 1:15 am

    Great word play!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. allyaldridge

    March 23, 2018 at 3:18 am

    Good flow and your poem drew up some gritty images that are *cringe* so real.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nigel P Smith

    March 23, 2018 at 6:46 am

    A great piece of ‘Outlaw poetry’, reminds me of kerouac, Hirschman, Bukowski et al, americana noir poetry, love it Joseph.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joseph Emerson

      March 23, 2018 at 6:55 am

      That’s very flattering. As you have named a few of my favorites. Also a big Ginsberg fan. Thank you so much. Glad you liked it🎩


  9. Fiery

    March 23, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Brutal, J. But beautifully dark, simple in its complexity and so starkly real and relatable. I’ve felt some of these things…you penned it so well. Hope you know I am a fan of yours 😉😏

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joseph Emerson

      March 23, 2018 at 7:50 am

      Your comment is like poetry lol. Thank you so much. I hope you know that I am extremely grateful for a loyal fan. 🎩 means a lot👍

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Lesleykluchin

    March 23, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Wow! Intense imagery. I’m sorry life was this difficult. Isn’t it funny how the worst part of life can turn into an amazing poem. Gritty,realistic,and sad. The fact that you climbed out of that pattern is admirable. Thank you for sharing. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joseph Emerson

      March 23, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Thank you so much. The problem is that I put myself in that situation too many times. I had a good home and every opportunity… I just chose the “rock and roll” lifestyle for many years. Very exhausting.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Lesleykluchin

    March 23, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Don’t beat yourself up over a lifestyle that has a glamorous appeal and can beckon those who are submersed in it.. But you broke the pattern. I was in an all girl rock band in the late 60’s. I understand the rock-n-roll life. While I never found myself in the dire straits you did, it was more about the decade I grew up in, the restrictions of women that kept me sheltered. Had I been born later who knows. I quit my band and left for college. But when Janis Joplin played music at my university and fell off the stage in a stoned state, I saw what might have been my future had I not changed course. And yet, while I was embarrassed for her slurred words, i still envied her being on stage and performing. I switched to theatre arts and performed on stage that way in stead. But to this day, if I go to a Joan Jett concert, I miss playing guitar and rocking out on stage. It’s seductive. Let your music be in your words. Then YOU are in control of your creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joseph Emerson

      March 23, 2018 at 10:28 am

      So cool. Thank you so much for a different view of it. Makes me feel better. 🤓



    March 23, 2018 at 11:34 am

    You are a dynamite writer. This was so intense and relatable in nature to me. All I’ve got to say is “WOW!” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Charlena E. Jackson

    March 24, 2018 at 9:03 pm


    Liked by 1 person

    • Joseph Emerson

      March 24, 2018 at 9:07 pm

      👍Thanks again. Hope all is well. How are your students? Last we talked about their open discussions.


      • Charlena E. Jackson

        March 24, 2018 at 9:20 pm

        You’re more than welcome!!

        Yes, all is well, thanks!

        My students are well!! We take ADVANTAGE of your blogs!! Your writing helps them to make an effort towards their journey.

        One student related to your addiction. He said “Woow, Ms. J, I’m not alone. He can relate to me and I can relate to him.” He want to create a blog, because he see from your writing, it helps.

        During lecture, we read over your blogs, because it’s life, truth, blunt, and reality. You touch bases on what’s really going on.

        I try my best to expand their mind… To dare to be different. To make use of WRITING and Reading!!

        Writing and Reading Heals!! They take us to another world!!

        The semester will be over soon. When we are disappointed with hopes the days will slow down.

        Every class I teach I LOVE!! I form a bond with my students, because I care.. I want them to have a voice and to be heard…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joseph Emerson

        March 24, 2018 at 10:31 pm

        That’s so important for them to have the encouragement to be artistic and creative. To have a positive outlet. I had some issues that I dealt with when I was younger and a lot of the time it wasn’t the best way to go about it, because I didn’t know any better and I was afraid to talk to anyone about how I felt. So I was a self-destructing introvert that acted like an extrovert when it was convenient and only made a fool of myself most of the time. I was very confused and bottled and explosive… anxiety-ridden and extremely depressed and didn’t know what any of that was at the time. Mistook it and channeled it into anger, towards others and myself. It’s not until now that I am really starting to figure some stuff out… crazy!!! lol


      • Charlena E. Jackson

        March 24, 2018 at 10:35 pm

        No, it’s not crazy… not at all.

        It’s your testimony!! Therefore you can relate to others and others can relate to you.

        You are among the few who do not judge people flaws, because you’ve been there and done that…

        That’s why I BELIEVE you are called to write.

        We have to go through sometime to live, learn and to tell our story.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joseph Emerson

        March 24, 2018 at 10:37 pm




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