James Franco

Twenty-Year Chip


Twenty years ago, today,

I took my last drink of King Alcohol.


Breaking probation

After school:


Ken’s dad’s liquor in Ken’s backyard,

With Luke, Ivan, Beau, Matt ‘n Mike.


When Ken’s mom came home

We jumped the fence


And into my father’s

Hand-me-down Honda Accord,


A jumble of bodies on the road,

Over to Matt’s on Christmas Tree Lane.


But Beau had forgotten his weed.


On my way back with Beau,

The Accord went through a stop


On Middlefield Road, and a car

Slammed into our front,


Spinning the Accord.

I chose to drive away,


First a side street,

– letting Beau out –


And then a roundabout way

Back home, where


The cops were waiting.

I was made a ward of the court.




Ivan jumped from a parking

Garage in San Francisco;


Luke is in a rock band;

Ken lives in Japan;
Beau, I don’t know; drunk driving,

Mike lost his license at age thirty-five.


I’ve addicted myself to other things

Like imagination, coffee, and sex.


I put the crazy man I was

Into the crazy men I play;


Acting is my drinking,

Movies are my drugs.




Dumb is me,

As a young elephant I was shy,

From too much attention,

So, speak I didn’t.


A young animal:

At age thirteen, life plunked

Me down in junior high,

Like Dumbo in the circus.


As I grew,

Isolation followed me

And the only recourse

Was to drink hard with the clowns.


Pink elephants

Paraded and sloshed

Through my youth

Until I became a sinister clown,


With a smile painted

So thick

I looked mad-happy, always.

And I never flew,


I never flew.


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1 Comment

  • Christopher Lavender June 15, 2016 at 1:03 am

    Awesome story telling, I felt the pain and isolation in your writing 20yr chip when I read It and dumbo, well I’m glad that had a better ending for both of us as I really relate to it.

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