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.

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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.

Don’t quit being a quitter…

It seems obvious that so many with well defined lives
like the ones who give TedTalks with millions of views
translated into hundreds and hundreds of languages
(and who knew there were that many languages)

about learning from adversity, creating good out of evil,
starting a business that no one else even dreamed of
built on how they were bullied when just a small child,
and you realize you were just ignored, or plain or normal,
not misunderstood – there was nothing to understand

because you were only six or eight, but somehow they
were paying attention, learning, remembering and
not destroyed for the effort – which is a mercy;

it’s too late for you and me, but we still subject ourselves
to their pep-talks, motivational books, and those memes
about winners and quitters and we’re the latter.

Inescapable eddies…

eddiesI am a stone tossed into the rushing river

ready to be hidden and forgotten

disappearing where there is no memory

 

and late at night when everyone else

is calming and secure, the waters rushing over me

won’t be enough to wash away my sin and sediment.

 

I am a stone thrown by the child’s hand

aiming to skip but gouging at the water

and briefly, just ever so briefly, struggling to fly

 

my splash is of no consequence, no ripples

my wake succumbs to the silky churn of the waterway

where no thoughts can compel another end.

 

I am as a pebble in a strongman’s hand

no connections or care slow his effort to govern

fears and ways so he’ll be remembered as great

 

and when I sink obscurely along with many others

we are useful to his ends, his dream to be remembered

resistance is futile, will and passion only frustrate.

 

I am a stone once here, then nowhere

once sinking slowly, now nowhere else to go

so promising, so imaginative, so hope-drunk

 

my dreams linger as reflections on the underside

of eddies you see but ignore as fanciful fits of nature

as my story plays on above me, out of reach.

 

 

 

You just don’t laugh the same…

Before you knew anything but

thought you knew it all

when the future was measured

with frenzy, not a clock or calendar

because immortality was your birthright

and energy was meant to be

spent, not saved,

you had a child but lost her

or never had her at all

and everything 

and nothing changed forever;

it’s as if that switch was flipped

from stupid, uncontrolled,

reason-less and ordinary laughter 

to a difficulty breathing

for no and every reason took hold

and the fight between youth

and its ignorance was dazed

and confused by something beyond

your control that bothered you

and everything you did while

everyone else just kept on unchanged

and remarking You just don’t laugh the same.

Object permanency and life…

Object permanence is
my greatest enemy;
it teases with the hope
that what I once had
remains, lingering
somewhere behind
the back of time past,
sleepless nights, empty
days, memories dancing
across a screen in my
heart; hiding from
troubles doesn’t make
them disappear, but
the love lost fades
and the only remedy
worth remembering is
I refuse to remember.