The difference between memoir and poem is similar to the difference between fire and ashes. Decide for yourself which is which. Ragged chunk of ice and puddle of cold water was my first impulse. Decide for yourself which is which.

Every poem is a memoir. Every memoir is a wish*.

I once knew a man who didn’t know me. No argument in a poem. Memoir requires an explanation. Someone’s written a biography in verse. Haven’t seen it but it’s something I feel as I write this sentence. Considering the economics of publishing it probably won’t be published. Even if it’s brilliant, it probably won’t be published; economics.

The difference between biography and memoir? Biography has a referee.

So, how does this work? I mean memoir. This morning I remember a cranberry scone and cup of coffee. Sixteen years ago? If I was writing a memoir that year would be missing, suggesting what, that I wasn’t alive, or was asleep. Do you write everything in a journal?

Twenty-three years ago? The parking lot behind a movie theater on Ventura Boulevard. It was night. Just stopped raining. I slid my arms around a woman. She pushed her tongue into my mouth. I don’t remember her name. I like to think she remembers mine.

If you don’t remember something it didn’t happen. Every instant falls into the past immediately and immediately memory takes custody. Writing is how we honor memory. Good or bad memories. Writing is honoring the past. The past is everything.

Sometimes, and I mean just sometimes, I write something I didn’t know I remembered. Sometimes, and I mean just sometimes, I write something that causes a hand to reach from my stomach up through my chest and squeeze my heart. As I’m reading, as I’m writing, as the heart tightens, I have no idea why. Hiding behind poems is a convenience.

I’ve written poems that are too personal to dislike, for me, though that doesn’t make them good. Hopefully, I’ve exercised good judgment with them and only inflicted them on very few people. Memoirs are fitting places for apologizes. If I write one the apologies would be pronounced and deep.

“Truth is an unfortunate dilemma.”** Memoir.

*Though it might be more honest to say every memoir is wish on a two-way street. Memory traffics in trickery.
**A Personal History
It's simply a coincidence
that all the women I've ever loved
kept anteaters as pets.
But now, rearranging my past
I tell people it's not a coincidence.
The nuances of a personal history
make a man interesting, subtle differences
that causes a person to pause like a break in the wind.

I only recreate simple details,
things as easy to believe as a passage
from your sister's diary describing
how she gave her virginity to the kid
with curly hair who lived across the street,
the same kid she always ignored.
This was on the afternoon she didn't feel
like going to the movies with you and your
friends. Truth is an unfortunate dilemma.
Take the skin on my face, it's turning
dark as the wrong side of a dime,
walking is becoming difficult.
If I start to limp I'll say it's a war injury.
When properly developed
a past has the aftertaste of candy.