SATURDAYS

 
 It’s hard not to love the world.
 A small boy at Dunkin’ Donuts
 all blue eyes - tousled hair 
 curls his toes
 on the rung of his chair 
 waves at me through the glass.
  
 Leaving Dunkin’, one dad
 holds the door for another as
 his daughter spins in her red skirt
 and her dark curls fly
 in a little girl’s flirt.
 Saturdays with her dad.
  
 How can I not love this routine 
 weekend trips with children?
 Media so rarely features bliss, 
 family outings, courtesy
 better than a kiss is the
 kindness and joy that hold us here. 

DELICIOUS

 Forty-year old men have grace unseen
 in younger men, however fine.
 Their depth of voice and solid stance shivers my spine. 
 With shoulders for children and eyes for business, 
 tortoise shell glasses for slight correction,
 they give and also take direction.
 

 Aware that stamina won’t trump skill
 they accept the limits of their will.
 They’re fathers, lovers, friends of substance
 with minds like rooms, ideas abundant
 neither peace nor conflict rocks their stride. 
 They step out boldly or move aside.
 

 I could watch, enjoy them by the hour,
 those thickened backs and thighs of power.
 I love their jaws with new grown stubble
 their easy way approaching trouble. 
 I sigh remembering a lover - forty years 
 in the making - one afternoon in the taking.
 

 

40 year olds are delicious

AT SEVENTY-TWO

At 72, it takes two tries
to get each foot into my jeans.
I wobble and catch myself
against the closet shelf.
 
At 72, I nap each day
enjoy my dreams 
scary or complex, puzzles
to ponder in waking hours.
 
At 72, it seems absurd
that I remember a child’s
great great grandmother. 
I'm a walking history text.
 
At 72, my 87-year-old friend
says I am young. I should
not fret but get to work.
I have another 20 years.
 
At 72, I think of poems 
unwritten, songs unsung
and return to my desk.
The day is young.

HOME

Truth runs thin in homes
diluted by pills and alcohol.
There’s no hook to hang your hat upon,
no rock on which to stand.
Mothers park along the driveway
at school’s end. Our Buick sits
cock-eyed across the curb.
 
I long to be like other kids, but
know I’m not.  Vodka bottles line
the linen closet - a fully-feathered
duck rests in the freezer.
I show it to my friend.
The puppy ate mom’s sleeping pills
and will not wake again.
 
School is worse - so many faces
whose chatter makes no sense
to me.  I am not them.  Sunday’s
comics fill me with dread.
There’s no vacation from
fear, only blank days that
stretch ahead.

MISSING

The Lord’s Prayer went missing today
on my knees no words to say.
Often a name, a place 
evaporates as I reach for it.
Whole chunks of books I’ve read
when opened, I’ve lost the thread.
 
I used to drive with knowledge sure
of roads from today and long ago
my sense of place, a source of pride.
That map in my brain is gone.
This troubles me.  It isn’t clear 
what’s normal.  What I should fear.
 
I trust the journey - friends, family, God
and if I must – will seek in books, maps,
stories, prayers to fill my lips
and ease my grip upon this world
and what remains – the precious gift
of days and hours, I ‘ve yet to claim.

ORIGINAL SIN

To which sins shall I confess?
Panic when as an infant, you’d hold your breath and faint?
Complicity moving away from Grandpa?
Weakness, letting you visit your father who was still drinking?
I apologize
         for the dogs you did or didn’t like
         for shopping trips where you spent money like a Sheik
         for not punishing your $300 pre-Christmas phone bill
         for loving you when you were your least loveable.
We refract the light that spawns us
Blue permissiveness from black strictness
Green sprouts from shiny white bread
Time unearths our original sin,
imperfection.
 

ADRIFT

Adrift in time,
days wash by
without regard
for date or name.
A whole week
vanished in August.
There is nowhere to go.
No one wants our dollars.
Once we modeled democracy.
Our story now's a dark comedy.
The President says the virus
will vanish like a mist.
No problem, he’s got this.
Magical realism is fine for
Isabel Allende and
Gabriel Garcia Marquez,
but has no place in a country where
       people die alone in crowded hospitals
       city folks swarm to the country
       morgue trailers line city streets.
A pandemic’s not a minor event,
a slight inconvenience.
It stops the world.
No magic can blind us
to the growing 
pile of corpses.
 
 

SCOTTIE

Warm at my back, black Aberdeen
dreams his fourteen years
chasing - never catching 
cat and deer.


Awake he seeks me if I 
leave his sight.
Howls the agony of
my upstairs to his down.


His almond eyes
give the lie to a gentle way
companion in migraine
patient with children.


He cannot hear me
when I call – stares heavenward
for long spells.  Smells better
than any dog I know.


I carry him upstairs,
set him on my bed,
turn out the light.
Warm at my back, black Aberdeen


Goodnight.

REDUCTION IN FORCE

As I walk the old railroad bed away from town
violets and periwinkles peer from bright green ground cover
and the funky protozoan scent of the Raritan fills my nostrils.
A cardinal’s scarlet flashes from a Sycamore overhead
and two gold finches,like acrobatic dandelions,
frolic through the green haze of trees. 
The path is lined with skunk cabbage, daffodils and buttercups,
their mix of intention and happenstance so like life’s.
High above, almost out of range, a hawk circles.
The hum of the nearby Interstate hardly matters here.
Its slinky spasms and urgencies are no longer my problem.
I’ve traded those for the white flowers of May Apples,
emerald velvet of moss and the disappearing tail of a red fox
trotting into the trees.
The world of commerce and its stresses
computers, paperwork, clocks  
and what they count
roll off me in a grateful sigh.
 
I have lost my job and gained the world.
 
 

SELF-MADE MAN

No one comes from nothing.
Who birthed him – potty trained him
taught him to tie his shoes?
The concept’s blind to the myriad
lives that touch our own -
    The workers who create roads
    The teachers, who teach math and language
    The plumbers who keep the sewers working
    The linemen who climb poles to keep the lights on
Who made the shirt he wears?
His shoes?  His socks?
His BVDs?
Rich or poor we all rely on weaver, seamstress
garbageman and priest
to help us through our days.
In this time of plague, we’re reminded
no infant can change its own diaper.