Selling something to a rich man…

Sell Me Something

The man pulled up slowly in a new Jaguar,
the more expensive one, which was obvious,
and I greeted him and his young son,
pointing out the table
of twenty-five cent items
and the other with dollar items;
he smiled and said,
sell me something; so I asked,
do you fish;
yes, a little;
and I showed him a plastic
device shaped like the body of a fish,
to grip an unruly catch;
you may not mind baiting the hook,
but who likes the lingering smell of fish
when you’ve landed your lunch;
I pay someone to do that for me,
I have that kind of money;
well, besides the argument that
that might not be true fishing,
does your son here have
that kind of money, or are you
going to let him go through life
never knowing what he’s glad
to have enough money to pay
someone else to do for him;
sold, he said; and
paid his twenty-five cents,
handing the device to his son who
threw me a disgusted look, he called out;
thanks for selling me something
worth more than twenty-five cents
my friend, you’re a good salesman.

Can’t eat it on the cob like I used to…

Corn Off the Cob

Before she moved into the home,
before she couldn’t dress herself anymore,
before she stopped writing out prayers
for her children and grandchildren on slips
of paper she tucked into her Bible from
1944 with those colorful plates of Abraham,
Moses, Elijah and Jesus doing amazing
things, and before she stopped eating
altogether, we would bring her dinner
to her in her room – all cut-up in small
bites, except the corn on the cob
she loved most of all, she always said,
and then she said she just couldn’t
and asked me to cut the rows off the cob
for her and I asked if it was now
corn off the cob, and she said it was.

Everyone else gives how-to advice, so here’s mine…

How-To

The way to live, in just a few words,
will include gratitude,
ignoring the din of reprisal, the choral
complaint that life
shouldn’t send our way the inelegance
and inconvenience,
that is tantamount to living itself;
following which we
might give consideration to joy,
as in, elation,
which is, of course, a difficult plan
to plan, but that’s
the challenge to living a how-to life;
and then simply add
tears, laughter, frowns and grins,
that is, have children,
your own or someone else’s will do,
for they’ll add all
that’s needed, if we’re appreciative
in the first place.

My little girl’s question…

The Hardest Part

My daughter asked what was the hardest thing
about… and I braced myself for her question, doubting
my ability to answer as I ought, hoping it was answerable
by her mother, that I would reply tactfully, and she
would know my love even when wrapped up in mistakes;
she had to repeat the question for me, about the hardest
thing about…learning to ride a bicycle, and as soon as
she said it I stopped myself, thought carefully, and said
it had to do with steering into the falling sensation – no one
liked that but it was the only way, along with continuous
peddling (you gotta keep peddling) to stay upright; she
had her own answer and blurted out, the hardest part
was the pavement and skipped haplessly out of the room
giggling, leaving me speechless and smiling in relief,
wondering why can’t all her questions be this much fun.

You might not need to go home again…

A Wilderness Called Home

Most just stay put, where they began,
through no choice of their own,
except to stay of course, an accident
of birth and even that seems consolation
enough to sleep each night and rise
each morning without wandering,
calling it home; sometimes it’s war that
makes you move, but not here – our war
is for money, for a living, for a life; those
are the only movers today, no more
nomads, vagabonds or hobo’s riding the
rails, driven by the voice of God
even, to live in tents or tenements,
looking for something. anything better,
which is to say, just a little more than
now; there are those brave souls who
leave just to leave, some out of adventure
but most from desperation, escaping what
hurts too much to stay near because
the world’s a wilderness, unless home is.

Dust to dust and back again…

God Bless the Dust

God bless the dust hiding
under my couch, my chair,
my bed, behind my dresser
and end table both solid
to view and hiding decay
from you, but I know dust
has returned and always
will, swept and washed
simply to clear a way
for carbon’s inevitable
epiphany’s undoing of
all that wishes to live
and therefore must be
ready to die; God bless
mother’s wishing to be,
grandma’s praying their
own to safety and peace,
those who protect, heal,
bind up and care along
the way of return to hide
under my couch, my chair,
my bed which I kneel
beside trying to learn
life’s bold humility in
the way of dust’s return.

What Nietzsche knew about babies…

NietzscheWow!

Nietzsche said “Love, too, has to be learned”
and we started with our first by teaching her
to say, ‘Wow’ – kissing lips opening as a fish
with a slow, drawn-out ow-ow-ow between
the magical w’s; it is a word that goes around
itself, a palindrome to embarrass all others
and she loved, absolutely loved, the joyful
surprise on adult faces as she so carefully
pronounced, over-and-over again, her word
of wonder until she broke into a smile and the
wow’s had to stop because upturned corners
of the mouth break into the world of wows
as if competing for delight, and it took her
learned discipline to recapture the lips which
would say her wonderful word ‘Wow’ and we’re
awed, every day, she knows what it means.

Remembering the smell of burning leaves…

We Can’t Burn Leaves Anymore

Just last week the leaves clung
to their boughs
though heavy and sweetening,

glowing in October’s
blinding noonday sun
with its
hint of warmth still;
dancing in the stir of a breeze
still mild begging us to inhale deeply,
soon to be bitter,

a final, seasonal mindfulness
of fleeting comfort;
because November brought a change
of heavy rain
and the verdures no longer clung,
but yielded
and fell underfoot, waterlogged,
soon to rot,

staining the sidewalks if not
raked and swept
to be discarded in bags for burial,

no longer afforded
their final triumph of
autumnal cremation
stinging the eyes of dancing children
as rake-braced adults
gathered round in funereal muse.

Books of love and love of books…

Lovers

There’s a wonderful novel on my shelf
which once slept bedside when not read daily,
over and over again as if new, old pages
still surprising, reluctant in my progress
through the confused lives of Owen and Stevie,
how Kate loved Owen but Stevie loved Kate
and nobody loved the janitor, Mr. O.
which they called him because no one
could pronounce his European name;
how I cried every time I read about
the disappointments of their sad lives
and wondered at my own insignificant ways
until another lover came to bed with me
and the pages of Owen, Stevie, Kate and Mr O.
gathered dust, then the middle of a stack
of novels until finally becoming lost
on my shelf next to others I’ve forgotten.