Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fathers and Sons and Men

Danny was 49
when he lost his dad,
after a long, slow
but while he was alive
Ed saw his son
marry his love,
make a beautiful baby,
become a tenured professor,
make a home,
resolve any unfinished business,
and he saw his son
as a man.

John was also 49
when he too lost his dad,
after another long, slow
but while he was alive,
John Sr. saw his son
find his perfect partner,
build a home together
also became a tenured professor,
also make a home,
resolve any unfinished business,
and he too
got to saw his son
as a man.

But, Pop, I was 35
when that dormant
heart disease took you.
I was still immature,
unfocused and
self-righteously selfish,
living from
one hedonistic decision
to the next.

However since your death,
I married
the beloved daughter-in-law,
and adopted
the treasured grandchildren
you never got to meet.

We made a home
and I know you would've
loved the view
from the back patio.

I've made a modest
but respectable career
as a college dean,
and if I play my cards right,
I'll be able to retire
with my house paid off
in a decade or so.

Sometimes I regret
that you never
knew me as the man
that I am today,
the man
I would have never

if your
sudden death hadn't
forced me
to grow up and
become a man.

[This is a continuation of the poem last week.  Bea was married to Ed, John Sr. was married to Willie, and Dan was married to Pat.  Written and posted for #OpenLinkNight at - where I am thankful for the support and love of the community.]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bea is Alone

Sitting down front
with her 
newly fragmented family,
Bea accepts the flag
expertly folded into
a triangle,
but doesn’t hear
the words accompanying it.

Back at the house
there is exhaled relief,
aluminum tins
with Mexican take-out,
and everyone’s eating,
and there is laughter,
but no one is laughing
too heartily.

In a few well-spaced waves
the mourners leave,
save for the lingering daugher
who stays another night,
and another still
until, at last,
she must rejoin her own life.

Now, finally,
Bea is alone,
not just in her home,
but for the first-time
in her adult life.

[For my moms, Pat, Winnie and Bea, all widows now.]

Monday, November 18, 2013

Finding Things, Losing Things

Sometimes you just
lose things,
like the spare keys
to the strongbox
where your
homemade sex video hides,
or those tickets
to the Elton John concert
she wanted to see
in 1996.

Sometimes you find things
and you thank
the God of Lost Items
because you can’t figure
how your sunglasses
ended up in the crisper,
but you’re just so happy
to have found them
because they’re perfect.

Sometimes you just
lose things,
like the firecracker spark
of a new passion,
or the receipt from
the movie you ducked into
to stay out of the rain,
the one where she took
your hand without asking
and changed the course
of your life.

Sometimes you find things
like forgiveness when it
isn't deserved,
and ecstasy for nothing more
than the infinite blue
of the sky above.

when you find something,
like something to write about,
rejoice and celebrate,
but when you lose something,
like the clever summation
of these thoughts 
I'd envisioned,

let it go and
move forward.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Deathbed Advice

Open your heart and
free the caged
bluebird inside.

Ignore the empty buzzing
voices of those who
mean well
but contribute nothing.

You were born with a shovel
so dig,
and if you find something
you don’t like,
Don’t keep digging.
Turn it over,
examine it
accept its dirt and grime,
for it is yours.

There is pity in the parade
and joy inside the tear,
and when you look in
that funhouse mirror
don’t disown the image:
just because the mirror is warped
doesn't mean you’re not.

if you look in the funhouse mirror
and like the what you see
you’re home free.

The only thing to hold
is your memory
but if you live too long,
the memories pile up
like old newspapers,

so start shedding
the superfluous memories,
keeping only the cream,

and if you must
write them out,
do it
and then let them die
on the page.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Without Irony: Christmastime in Southern California (a haiku)

Eighty-six degrees,
red and green decor creeps out
'neath November blue.

[Taken today at lunch, Riverside, California.]

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Other Side of Luke 23:34

I'm sorry,
but I honestly didn't know.

I disguised my lust and gluttony
as joie de vivre
and followed them
as I blazed
a pathetically predictable path,
one mortifying lesson at a time.

I thought I was gifted,
that I had a vision,
but now I see
I was just another
in an unending line of
abstract and myopic
just spoiling for a fight.

I stand now
at the foot of your cross
under a bruised purple-black sky
lost in a sea of fetid sinners,
a fellowship of miscreants-
these are my true peers.

I see the weight of my sins
bearing down
on your thorny crown.

I see your human agony
and if you can see me
through the blood dripping
in your eyes
please know,

I’m sorry.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at - where they love me even though I'm not really writing lately.]

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

“I Am Your Slave"

“I Am Your Slave”
she said presenting herself,
wrists forward and palms up
in an expression of
understood submission.

My face went cold and
I felt that familiar thud
drop from my chest
to my gut.

She was supposed
to go back to her husband
after our tryst
and this just confirmed my fear.

Thoughts of panic
swirled around me
and the guilt soaked
through my shirt.

She handed herself over
like a blank check waiting
to be drawn
from a demonic account
and I was angry.

Stupid girl.
She knew
she was just another painkiller
I was using to numb the
wounds inflicted by my
newly departed wife.

Why’d she betray me?

She bought into The Lie.

The Lie is a thing
so beautiful
perfectly round
juicy and sweet
and always just
a little out of reach.

The Lie
does an excellent business
tempting the lost and lonely
to disregard every dull truth
in favor of its titillating façade.

I know this
because I did the same thing
the night before
as I bowed low
at the altar of wanton carnality
and said:
“I Am Your Slave.”

[Posted for #openlinknight at - come and read some great poetry.]