Something about opera…

Firestone Opera on a Saturday

I like to look over the steering wheel,
neck stretched out like a turtle exploring,
a child reaching with eyes to see ahead,
as my Dad’s strong, aged hands grip
our trajectory lightly even on the highway
while the world flies past in blurs and
he taps his fingertips on the wood and
leather of the wheel in time with the
Firestone Opera he listens to every
Saturday afternoon as we drive to the
bowling alley; everyone else wants to
drive someday, control their own
destiny or at least the radio station,
taking new roads, risking it all on
the hope of getting lost or just making
one’s own way in the romance of
adventure, but I still want to sit in the
backseat craning my neck over Dad’s
shoulder peering ahead, knowing where
we’re going but still curious as if
discovering the new world again
and hoping the fat lady never sings.

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Playing God could be fun…

On Being God

When I grow up I want to be God,
capital ‘G’ – whole thing, just like you think,
maybe churches too, but that’s
not something I care about, like others;
I will listen to people when they talk,
do what I can, not what I want,
but not always when they want I’m sure,
good people will feel good about good
and not just for them either,
I’ll ignore pretty much most of what is
because that’s the way it seems best,
and my job will be to keep things running;
I’m sorry, but people will still die
because that’s what mortality means,
that, and thermodynamics,
and we’ll see if I can get people
to stop blaming themselves and others
for everything that they don’t like
because I won’t like everything either;
I’ll give gifts, but not on Christmas
so everyone else can feel special too,
but mercy will still be the toughest sell,
and I get that, but I’ll still try
and that’s the most anyone can ask.

 

 

Morning rhymes with nothing…

Too Early for Words

In the quiet of the morning
in the ease of rest refreshed
with the stillness stillness still
and the dawn God blessed

the spiders have spun a yarn
the dew has bathed it in peace
when all’s uncertain and true
and night has started to cease

there are no found words to speak
there are no new chores to do
verse has failed me yet again
and left me alone to stew

all is forgotten in fog
all too gone to pray a prayer
the unseen is left best that way
and rhyme is nostalgia there

Is there a way back…

Careening Through Life

Do trees cast off their leaves,
eager to be free of those parasites
drawing more than they offer;
do they cure and fall themselves
as birds leave nests never to return again;
or is there a romantic but exhausted grasp
which simply but reluctantly
fails in the cold of November?

Do the vivid colors of toys
cling to pathways cossetted in the
soft tissue of my memory;
a red fire truck of tin metal
and sharp edges that cut
my tender fingers as I played
the role of rescuer in the midst of
a horrible blaze; and what of the smell
of Mom’s cookies – unmistakable
and gone forever except in words
put together in strings
without sentences; is there a way back
to those sunny afternoons
with powdered sugar floating in the air
and me praying for a broken sample?

People died here…

Visiting History

It’s raining on the prairie,
but not in answer to prayer
as we huddle inside a dusty museum wondering
at the recreation of a settler’s life,
determined by weather and wind and rain
on the cut fields of earth;
if we shiver in a sudden summer storm and wonder
at the musky air it’s best to recall that people died
here – in this room probably, because they did
everything in this one dark room – and we can’t
wait for the storm to end and go on with our fun.

How we do things with words…

Only Words

The Philosopher says there are only words,
only ways of saying what can’t be said
about things like toast and coffee and love
and you and us, and somehow this should
make me feel better about how my words
trail off into air, into nothingness, but
when they were spoken, even thoughtlessly,
they were loud and important and true,
and the games we played with our words
that excited us then we reminisce over now,
those lisps of titles, and the laughs which
are certainly words and not just noises,
when a simple yes was amatory and
I waited to hear your voice say my name.

What marks the spot…

X

I can say X is red
or X instead;
because what’s real
is what we steal
from authors dead
but well said,
both/and and lost
found with a cost
that I will pay
every single day
until words mean
not what they seem
to Dumpty’s many
egg’s a plenty
toppled from walls
ruining school halls
angering teachers
pleasing preachers
who always search
for sin’s church
of truth’s facts
but object acts
baffling thoughtless
fearful, cautious
realists all
of Adam’s fall
who hear a word
and jump stirred
by a fear of living
and God unforgiving.

 

 

How to deal with a disgruntled employee…

Signed, the Management

It has come to our attention
that you are dissatisfied
with the general experience
of living, or so it would seem;
your constant complaints,
derogatory remarks, groans,
sour grimaces and typical
passive-aggressiveness
leave us with no other option
than to conclude that you
would be happier with
some other company;
therefore, please be advised
that effective in the immediate
future, possibly within as few
as six months, your employment
will be terminated and
a severance package will
be negotiated at the
discretion of the management
based upon your history
of contributions made
during your time with us.

Signed, the Management

I knew he’d live forever…

Knob of Pearl

I was eight, maybe nine, and it should have
changed my world to see that my father was
a mere mortal – flesh and bones and blood,
but it only made him more of a superman
to me, impervious to torn flesh and oozing
blood – deep red and opaque seeping from
the gash on his knuckle, layers of skin torn
away by a trowel as he gardened and I played
nearby; “Look,” was all he said and I peered
into his wound to see the bright white of his
bone exposed, a little knob of pearl between
the serrated opening, he bent his finger
and it danced, and for once I said nothing,
for almost fifty years; such a display should
cure the myth of paternal immortality,
but it’s effect was the exact opposite.

Dear John and a pastry…

Steinbeck and a Pastry

As we talk about others and ourselves and others
until we start back on us again across
the small coffee shop table with the whole world
rushing past us, nibbling on a pastry we share,
what Steinbeck said about having to get all our
autobiographical material out of our system
or it will hound us until we get it said
keeps interrupting my train of thought,
and yours as well as you ask me where my head is,
and am I listening, which, of course I’m not;
but that’s because we’re only pretending
to be the authors of our lives and this dialogue
we try every day – which you’re so much better at –
seems more accurate about others than us;
and I wouldn’t have it any other way
even though it doesn’t always seem so, and,
no, I’m not going to finish the pastry.