Life in a drawer…

Junk-Drawer-740x515I have this box into which all
odds-and-ends are sent to linger
and accrue value as mementos
until either called upon in the
rebirth of usefulness or muse or

discarded in the cleaning called
spring; clips, cuffs, children’s
lost teeth even, my father’s
gold pen, a large button from my
favorite coat once upon a time,
a too-fashionable tie bar, birthday
cards from my mother – all dated,
all Hallmarks, with special words
underlined for personalization (a
habit I picked up and enjoy being
mocked about by my children),

there are those tiny school photos,
three wallets worn with credit card
numbers still impressed in the
leather, a comb bent to the
shape of my posterior still; there’s
a mood ring that’s always black,
and a torn dollar bill that will
never be mended, an 1928 coin

from Ireland, collar stays, even
a slip of paper with 14R-08L-11R
in faded pencil from my high
school locker before I dropped
out, and there’s a pencil, yellow,
No.2, but just a stub with some
eraser remaining and it’s the only
thing without a reason to be in this
box, or at least a reason I recall.

So everything dies…

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

soon to be bitter wind,

but mild still causing all to

inhale deeply, slowly

 

in a final, seasonal mindfulness

of fleeting comfort;

but November brought a change

of heavy rain

and the verdures no longer clung,

they 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

the final aromatic triumph of

autumnal cremation

stinging the eyes of dancing children

and rake-braced adults

gathered round in funereal muse.

Is omneity even a word…

Imagine the memories of pain and hurt,
discomfort, disappointment and sorrow
didn’t just dissolve as they tend to, but
were stored-up, like a single collection
which stayed with you – a pool of tears,

embarrassments, losses, frustrations
and fears teaming with every dread,
every haunt of what has ever happened
and harmed the hope of comfort and
confidence that all’s well with the world

or at least tolerable; sure, some do
linger but the sting eases away somehow
and recollections fade, or else the
assemblage of broken bones, cuts
and bruises, stubbed toes and loves
lost would crush you, as poverty ruins
through an abundance of nothing;
there’d be no hauntless nights, not a

single pleasant day, courage would be
ridiculed and driven to despair by the
burden of history repeating itself
because our crimes against humanity
are as simple as living through it all;

so consider it a mercy to lack a sense
of permanence like an infant puzzled
by an object hidden, taunted with the
Where did it go? game we all play
and bless the benevolent omneity for
the freedom to forget, if not forgive.

Simply ignored…

Ignored.pngIn the beginning I wasn’t there
and neither were you or anyone
who was and cared to write of it

everything that’s been said since
is opinion seeking audience
authority in search of control

to some, what was first is best
and must resist all alternation
against increase or second thoughts

primitives have a way of winning
without dispute by arguing
infidelity in passive-aggressiveness

damned are those who love to live
cursed to be cursed by devotion
in the apocalypse of good news

no church, no pew welcomes
those who need a them to be an us
ignoring page to see the words

forgetting story for broken phrase
finding canon in evocative diction
as long as first proceeds second

in the beginning there was no how
and why was always an echo
in which when was simply ignored.

Zigging and zagging…

Davey and I spent the days riding
our bikes from the block where we lived
to the park to play baseball to the
swimming pool to meet more friends
where everyone gathered, and back home
when the street lights came on to
repeat the cycle the next day and the next;

with our gloves slid over the handle bars,
towels slung over our shoulders,
zigging and zagging from pavement to
gravel to sidewalk to grass to garages,
exhausted and straight to the refrigerator
until scolded away by mothers well
prepared for the hunger and dirt and sweat
and laundry and stories of young boys,

only interrupting with short questions of
Is your bike put away? and Did you win?
which didn’t matter all that much – Win
at what? at riding our bikes or never
running out of air in our lungs or at a
baseball game meant to be played but

never really ending or wearing the same
pair of blue jeans the most days in a row
until your Mom takes them away when
she sneaks into your room after you’ve
collapsed into bed to live another day.

And they threw candy at us…

Aluminum chairs with nylon bands
stretched in their lattice weave,
blue and green and sticky and soft,
we carried to the sidewalk of Main
under the red, white and blue
banners draped on light posts
made of speckled concrete, stout
and immovable, and sat and waited
and fidgeted until we heard
a band playing, horns blowing,
people we didn’t know sitting
on the backseat of convertibles
waving like we were old friends
driving 4, 5 or 6 miles per hour,
and a clown faking a smile and laugh,
until the rumble of a fire truck
turned the corner and we stood,
eagerly, hearing parental cautions,
begging for the siren to sound,
and the firemen threw candy at us.

What I’m not thinking about now…

The dry, deadly needles of another Christmas tree
stab my thinning skin and ornaments tumble
to their shattered end, but I’m not thinking about
years and years of cackling laughter slipping off
into the nowhere of ether and our children
slipped off to their own lives too far away.

I’m not thinking of the musk of my childhood
basement where I’d hide to play on hot summer’s
days – the cool screech of cicadas outside piercing
the quiet interrupted by the sounds of Mom loading
the washing machine, stepping back and forth
as her slippers scuff the cement floor.

She was young then like she’d never be again
so I’m not thinking of that, just like I’m not
thinking of debts I owe, how the gutters are
overwhelmed with melting snow today and
the leaves I didn’t clean from them when I could

and I’m not thinking about taking the dog
to the vet and my own visit to a doctor eager
to prescribe another thing or two to fill the
crowded pill case I swore I’d never need or use

that soothing sway and chatter of riding the
California Zephyr on a family vacation and Bob
and Phil, Betty and Judy boasting how they love
sleeping on a train in White Christmas and
returning the gift of a sweater that doesn’t fit
this year but it would have last Christmas

and I’m not thinking about the first time I ever
had a BLT and it was so good that everyone
since has paled in comparison but I keep trying

and how the touch of a hand on my shoulder
stays with me, the smell of rain in summer
and how it’s different than in the spring, and
I’m not thinking about any of these things now.

A preference for blue…

Does it really matter what I think about
a color, favorite or not is just a preference,
and mine is blue; like the t-shirt and cap of
my little league uniform the year I played
shortstop, turned my first double-play or
the time I actually hit a ball over the head
of the left fielder but only made it to first
because I watched it sail so perfectly into
the blue sky while the coach yelled his
insistent ‘Run!’ but I wasn’t embarrassed;

it was the same blue of the sky above as a girl
named Jean rested her head on my chest one
summer’s day after our first awkward kisses;

it was the blue of swimming pool water
I swam every summer’s day, and it’s the
blue of the house I lived in on Hudson until we
moved to one of brick and brick isn’t blue;

I pick blue pens instead of black, blue ties
instead of red, my favorite car was a blue Nova
with a V-8 that drank gas faster than I could make
minimum wage to pay for it, and my eyes are blue
and I do enjoy being told my blue scarf brings
them out, but it doesn’t really matter what I think
about a color, favorite or not because it’s just
a preference and I always prefer blue.

Lovers forgotten…

There’s a wonderful novel on my shelf
which once slept bedside when 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 surname;
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 hid in a stack
until finally becoming lost on my shelf
next to the other lovers I’ve forgotten.

Turning…

A last leaf clings to barren branch
a last breeze carrying sun’s fading glow
dusk races ahead of us at day’s end
summer green wounded by a frost
and we are the sadder for it all;

but fauna knows this time to turn
though lives shorter than ours
while instinct may lead to envy
we much rather enjoy the surprise.