PFFFT

As I age now I am
aware that the tether
to my earliest memories
has grown thin, stretched
by time until I know it will,
of necessity, soon give way.

And so I spend spare
moments trying to sort
through my life as I recall
it, selecting those moments
that bear the effort of retethering
so that time would be better
served weakening others.

But the hidden beauty,
I know, is that when a memory
is gone, has fallen away, it often
takes its shadow along, so there
is no hint even of its prior existence,
and you don’t mourn what
you never had, even if you did.

SHE

You were a young beauty
to my middle aged eyes
that knew, despite the mirror’s
lies, that I too retained
some large measure of youth.

Even that is now behind us,
and I can no longer deny
the mirror’s sad truth,
my face unable to belie what
I knew time had wrought.

And yet your beauty has
not diminished, rather grown
as does a fine wine richer
for time’s passage, and I
swim ever deeper in love’s sea.

CHASING NO MORE

I have to admit that I
loved the Grateful Dead
saw them in concert when I could,
listened often but could never
be considered a Deadhead.

Years later my sons and I
loved Moxy Früvous and
traveled to nearby shows,
bought every album, played
them to death so we were
justifiably FrüHeads.

But time has passed, that band
is now gone as well, and I
have taken to drinking margaritas,
but only with anejo tequila,
Cointreau and lime juice and I
will never ever be mistaken
for a Parrothead.

SMALL REFLECTION

It is that moment when the moon
is a glaring crescent,
slowly engulfed by
the impending night—
when the few clouds give out
their fading glow
in the jaundiced light
of the sodium arc street lamp.
It nestles the curb—at first a small bird—
when touched, a twisted piece of root.

I want to walk into the weed-strewn
aging cemetery, stand in the shadow
of the expressway, peel
the uncut grass from around her headstone.
I remember
her arthritic hands clutching mine,
in her dark, morgueish apartment, smelling
of vinyl camphor borsht.
I saw her last in a hospital bed
where they catalog and store
those awaiting death, stared
at the well-tubed skeleton
barely indenting starched white sheets.
She smiled wanly and whispershouted
my name—I held my ground
unable to cross the river of years
unwilling to touch
her outstretched hand. She had
no face then, no face now, only
an even fainter smell of age
of camphor of lilac of must.

Next to the polished headstone
lies a small, twisted root.
I wish it were a bird
I could place gently
on the lowest branch of the old maple
that oversees her slow departure.

First published in Rattle #23, Spring 2005

PURPOSES

Life, she said, is all about
finding purpose not things.

It was hard to argue with her,
as she overwhelmed with examples.

Rice filling a small bowl
holds an incense stick up

and catches the ashes
as they fall quietly down..

A cracked plate can sit
under a plant, catching

any overflow from its
careful daily watering.

And old fleece jacket can
be desleeved and become

the cat’s new favorite bed,
moved around for novelty.

He always wondered how
she would repurpose him

when the time came.

EN ROUTE

We spend so much of our lives
imagining we are en route,
always on the way to somewhere
if often not certain where that
somewhere might be.

It seems we intensely dislike
not being in motion, not focused
on the future, the destination,
never wanting to be, seeming
to dread being static.

Yet the irony is that we,
at any given moment, are
never en route anywhere
for we are, in each moment
if we are in that moment,
exactly where we are,
en route to nowhere.

EIRE

They say you must cherish
your memories lest they slip
away in the night, trying for
a freedom you deny them.

I remember Ireland, knowing
it was home although at the time
I thought I was Ashkenazi
and Portuguese, but my genes
were trying to tell me something.

I remember driving a stick
shift down narrow roads,
always keeping in mind
the advice, “if you hear
the branches of the yellow
gorse against the side
of the car you’re fine, if
you hear the stone of the fences
you’ll have a large bill
when you return the car.

And Guinness on tap, always
Guinness on tap.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY

I am just wondering
what you would say
if you were called
to testify about all
that you had seen,
all that had disgusted you,
all that you condemned
but did and said
nothing while it occurred.
What would you say
if you had no choice
but truth, no shading,
no mincing of words,
just the harsh light
and you in a chair
in an empty room,
a disembodied voice
asking endless questions?
It is best that you
remain silent, say
nothing at all,
for we have already
judged you, and you
know your own guilt.

First appeared in Literary Cocktail Magazine, Fall Issue 2022, Volume I Issue II
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VEgeWfNp5SFGSm8nW8QegM1WuNUa_s99/view

EGGMAN

When I was a child . . .
God, how many times have you
heard something prefaced by those
ever frightening words, not
scary themselves but what
painful story they promised.

When I was a child we had
a milkman who brought
the glass bottles twice a week,
took the empties and envelope
with his payment from the
shelf built in the wall
just for deliveries.

We also had an egg man
who’d leave a dozen eggs
in a little metal basket
on the same shelf. He
had a great mustache,
almost walrus-like, and he
may have been an eggman
but he was defnitely not a walrus,
goo goo gajoob.

FACING

The face in the mirror
was surprisingly older today,
and I can’t imagine that I
will ever look that old,
at least not for quite some time.

I wanted to ask him how
he had aged so badly, but knew
that it would be bad manners
to comment on his appearance,
so I smiled and he in returm.

I suppose one day I will look
much like he did this morning,
but I know that day is far off
in the future, and I just felt sad
for his older man’s face.