NO HAMLETS, WE

We were the crown princes, then,
with an occasional princess, though
that was more to maintain the peace.
Our kingdom was a square block,
and we dominion over all of our territory
save the two minefields, well-marked,
kept by the Strauss and Herlihy fiefdoms,
who refused to pay homage to us,
denied us our just due, and suffered
such consequences as we could muster
in the dark of a late October night.
We four, Larry, Buddy, Sheldon and I
roamed our kingdom, and one day,
drunk with power and Nehi, scaled
the border masquerading as a fence
and entered the neighboring kingdom,
cavorting until its army of one
chased us away with a shout, “It’s
a private school and you don’t
belong here,” before hobbling back
into the building he was far
too black to enter save in uniform.
We are old now, have long since
abdicated our thrones and struggle
only to retain our memories.

MAGIC, ONCE

As a child he had a magical power.
He didn’t like to use it, didn’t want others
to know he had it, certainly couldn’t share it.
He wasn’t certain when it began to fade,
but he noticed the power diminished as he grew,
as he learned more about the world,
and there was absolutely nothing he could do
to stop or even slow its diminution.
He knew he would miss it, knew he
would always remember it even when
there was no longer a trace of it.
He stopped thinking about it as life
engulfed him in its ever-present moments.
Every once in a while he would pause
and remember it with fondness for
innocence is not something you lose willingly.

THIRD EYE, NEEDING GLASSES

You ask me what is the first thing
I can remember, and seem surprised
when I tell you memory is much like
a Buddhist river, never the same twice.
Memory is a stage and I am one to forget
my lines, today it’s the window
in the back of a Miami Beach bus
amazed at the sweeping curve
facade of the grandest of hotels,
or the cast iron of the radiator
with its almost rusting pipes, standing
on the small square white tiles, outlined
like the walls in black, the bit of my hair
stuck in the valve knob, a bit of blood
on the floor beneath where the rag
wouldn’t reach when we got back
from the hospital, my toddler head
beneath a bandage, the floor where
my father would fall three months later.
The problem is childhood doesn’t come
with stage directions and my lines
are associated with places and things
and a child cannot read a script
and memories drown and float to the surface
and are carried downstream to a sea
replete with  things I have long since forgotten,
like the face of my mother before
they took me to the foster home
and she returned, again barren,
to her own river of a life.