Summer 1966: After France & Remembering Bobby, Who One Day Would Learn to Multiply and Divide, Write Love Poems, Define Home, Fight Unfairly and Live with as Much Gusto as a 7-Year Old. Perhaps.
From left coast to right, or the wide arc between,
which place claimed you? In New York you marveled
at the building’s backs scratched by clouds, and all your
pale cousins in Baltimore spoke strangely and couldn’t fathom
your nuclear family’s private lingo, while the drive to Texas
and its red ants and iced tea blossomed into adventures between
pages in the back seat of the VW bug. By the second week you
learned that Texans sweat as much as the French, and swear even
more, that you couldn’t fight one twin without taking on the other,
sometimes both at once. There was no question of fairness then,
just brotherhood, but the librarian would slip you the choicest
donated fiction, and you played baseball every day in the vacant lot
until sundown called the players home to black and white body
counts and cigarette commercials on the three channels received.
Sometimes you lay in bed under the half-light of the whirring
fan blades, and dreamt of heroes and ornithopters, zebras
and the scent of chocolate chip cookies in the oven. Other nights
you wondered how words could rest so calmly on one page yet
explode off the next, or why a man would climb a tower in Austin
to kill fourteen people when opportunities for mayhem and murder
burgeoned across the sea. Wasn’t living a matter of simple
subtraction? One by one the days parted and you walked through
that dwindling heat, eyes squinting, questions in hand, emerging
fifty years later having suffered additions and division and the
cruelties of love and success, honor and truth, still asking why
and how, home or house, where it went, your shoulders slumping
under the heft of those beautiful, terrible summers stacked high
like so many life-gatherings of unread books awaiting a bonfire.
This was first published in theSilver Birch Press “Moving” series, and an earlier version titled “Bonjour, Texas” appeared on the blog A Holistic Journey.
Trying to give, I fail too often.
But this day we prepare for you
food that your beloved often cooked,
made with the ingredients of 19,000
nights and promises of more to come.
These potatoes. That beef, the fruit.
Simple, and yet so difficult to reproduce.
Even the recipe is incomplete. “Some
mayonnaise,” it says, then “mustard,”
but not whether dry or prepared, and
the amount is unclear. Yet the results
transport you to stronger days, to
the clear-eyed self and limitless
possibilities, meals on the table
at five o’clock, the satisfaction of work
well done, knowing that you have soared
above your father’s imprecations
but never beyond love’s touch, her
sleepy murmurs, morning coffee,
burnished histories and late cigarettes,
the tulips on the soil you’ll soon share.
“Sunday, June” first appeared in the print journal Nourish in March 2018.
My poems “Vision in Far Infrared” and “I Look for You with Satellite View” have been published at Circle Show. I am grateful to the Seven Circle Press team for accepting these two pieces, which were drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 fundraiser. Thank you Angela for sponsoring “Vision in Far Infrared” and providing the title and these three words: nebulosity, eon and maelstrom, and thank you, Ken Gierke, for sponsoring and providing the title to “I Look for You with Satellite View.”
My poems “Moonwalker” and “Take Another Piece of My Heart” were published in Ligeia’s Winter 2019 edition. Many thanks to poetry editor Ashley Wagner for taking these poems. I’m also grateful to Tami Wright for providing the title and sponsoring “Take Another Piece of My Heart” in the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 fundraiser.
The wind knows impermanence but does not trust it.
Dependent upon atmospheric pressure, absorption
and rotation, who can blame the wind? We, too,
lend ourselves illusions, only to barter them away.
Three miles for a beer. Seven seconds for a fresh look.
A dollar extended for every five stolen. Empathy,
but only for the wealthy. Electing liars to office,
we justify our actions with more untruths. Nothing
improves. Even the quality of lies diminishes.