At the coffee shop they chatter as if in some foreign tongue, conversations overlaid one on another on another, until all I can strain are snippets of words, stray syllables. This is true everywhere I have visited, and it promises good coffee, for I have found that when I can easily eavesdrop on others at nearby tables, it is because the espresso maker has gone silent too long, there are few present, and I will regret the coffee shortly after drinking it.
A woman’s purse is inviolable territory
she tells me, and no man dare look within
unless invited and that is as unlikey to happen
as a man is to fully understand a woman.
What she doesn’t say, but what time has
demonstrated to me repeatedly, is that
within that small space is the solution
to most of life’s pressing problems, a balm
for small emergencies, and a truth, the release
of which would loose upon those proximate
the sort of shock that Pandora only promised,
and I have more than enough problems of my own.
She asks what I keep in my over-fatted wallet
and I tell her it is not money, but thoughts
that haven’t come to fruition, and dreams
unrealized because they defy reality.
So, she says, your wallet is full of the stuff
that gets you through a day, that give you
hope for the next, and that marks your
ever present failure of irrational dreams.
The path meandered more than he remembered
but he was the first to admit
his memory was never his strongest suit.
It didn’t help that he had consumed
two margaritas at lunch, and even he
didn’t believe the excuse that this was
a slow day for him, still sober at two in the afternoon.
But he wandered the path, for that
is what paths were there for he was certain.
He had no idea where he was going, and realized
that he would have no idea when he got there.
Still he had great faith in mathematics, that
was his training, his brilliance,such as it was,
and he knew that if he merely wandered aimlessly
without thinking, he would eventually cross
his own path, bump into his former self
and they, together, could devise a plan
to find their way precisely they were intended to be.
It’s a question of faith.
You have to have some
even if you doubt it, in fact
your doubt is proof you have faith
if only in doubt, for you know
you cannot prove doubt,
you just cling to it
as a matter of faith.
Your faith need not be religious
though much of faith is,
it can be philosophical
or whimsical if you prefer.
It can be most anything unless
you are certain of everything
in which case you are immortal,
on death’s doorstep
or simply a fool.
ON A SIDE NOTE, TWO OF MY POEMS WERE JUST PUBLISHED AT GRAND LITTLE THINGS. YOU CAN FIND THEM HERE: https://grand-little-things.com/2020/07/21/two-poems-by-louis-faber/
It is simply a matter
Of putting one foot
In front of the other
It all follows from that.
But which foot goes first,
He asked, I’d hate
To get off on the wrong one?
I want the sky to be that certain crimson
tinged with burnt sienna and cinnabar,
but today winter is holding sway
and the sun sneaks off behind
the gray wall from which it only peeked,
and left the day one of grayscale
where intensity replaced beauty
and even the cardinal opted to stay
high in the spruce, offering
only an occasional glint of red.
We come to expect this, it is a season
of colorlessness, and the only question
is whether we can hold out
until spring returns the full pallette
and nature takes up brush again.
We are, he is convinced,
devolving into verbal neanderthals,
losing are ability to recognize
the linguistic tools that once
set us apart from other species,
or at least so we assured ourselves.
She knows that what truly sets us
apart from other species is the arcane
skill we have at being able
to convince ourselves that
delusion, firmly held, is fact.
Still, she cannot disagree with him,
simplicity is a too close cousin
to inanity, and nuance is the first
relative to be cast out. And so
with ever fewer words, we seem
to have ever more to say,
and speaking endlessly, say ever less.
It wasn’t until I hit
middle age, which on my scale
will allow me to live past 100,
that I discovered that cats
are Celtic deep in their hearts.
Our cat, she who adopted me
and forced her then owner
to marry me, like it or not,
was in love with the tin whistle
and the uilleann pipes playing
had her in my lap, unmoving.
But she had her Buddhist side
as well, sitting zazen for hours,
longer if accompanied by
shakuhachi flutes. She said
that cats were discerning,
were connoisseurs of music
loved cello, viola and violin
but barely tolerated the bass.
It was why, she said, all
the great composers wrote
for the higher strings.
And, she would add,
as for dogs, well they
loved country music most,
reason enough for pity.
Aunt Tzipporah hated her name,
detested it really, came closer to the truth.
“What the hell were my parents thinking?”
she said, “like being Jewish in West Virginia
isn’t going to be hard enough.
On a good day I got away with being Zippy,
but you try spending your Junior year in high school
hearing “Hey Zipper” or having some jerk
come up to you, cigarette dangling
from his lip and saying, “hey, Zippo,
got a light?” and you can guess
why getting out of state to college,
any college, was something I wanted so badly.”
I told my aunt I fully understood,
and she smiled, “I guess you do.
It couldn’t be a party going through
life with the name Shadrach Shamnansky.