I will take it, the aging poet said to the ever more sparse crowd at the weekly open mic, as a recognition is the growth in the quality of my writing that I continue being rejected but now by a much higher quality of literary journals.
The person I see each morning looks vaguely familiar, perhaps someone I once met in passing, or maybe a distant relative. But he was so much older so he was difficult to place.
I do say hello each morning but get only a nod, a gesture in response, as if the person is mute, for he smiles back so it is not a silence born of anger or displeasure.
I will of course keep trying for I know that I will one day recognize his all too familiar face, and I need to act now for he is aging quickly so my time is limited, and in any event the mirror does need cleaning.
“I will take it,” the aging poet said to the ever more sparse crowd at the weekly open mic, “as a recognition is the growth in the quality of my writing that I continue being rejected but now by a much higher quality of literary journals.”
I wrote a poem for my father, about how one afternoon the oddly green ’57 Caddy appeared in the driveway and he polished its chrome for hours, even waxed the black bumper bullets. It was the love of his life he said, except for his wife, he added after a moment. The years would prove that addition was most likely false. I could send him the poem, he might actually read it, he would remember the Caddy, much as he now remembers my mother, with a fondness that fills the voids in his fading memory. He is not much for poetry, never was, wasn’t all that much for reading and poetry had to rhyme, at least the good ones did, but while he agrees with Hecht, he would no more recognize that name than that of Amichai, even rewritten in the grating hand of Ted Hughes. My father does not understand poetry, does not understand all that much these days and what little he does bears constant repetition, and yet he remembers well odd bits and pieces and forms them into his own fictions that become momentary realities. He is Brodsky rewriting Mandelstam, a new Tristia, sharing only a name with its precursor, but one its author claims is truest to its origin. My poem will be tucked away inside a yellowing journal, his Caddy is rust and scrap, but in his dreams he carefully polishes the chrome and waxes the bumper bullets.
First appeared in The Alchemy Spoon, Issue 1, Summer 2020
He awoke this morning, and was surprised to be there, he said, because when you are ninety, and can’t get around at all, you don’t look forward to tomorrow, for it will simply be a repeat of today when nothing will happen. And it is harder still, he says, because he can’t remember much anymore, so it’s hard to say if today is any different than a week ago or a month ago, though they say he was in the hospital then, but he don’t know why he was there. When I stop for a visit the next day his is surprised to be there, he says as though it was a new thought that just came to him in the moment.