I HAVE NEVER BEEN

six foot four with a full head
of longish brown hair neatly cut

five foot ten as the Air Force
claimed although I never
conformed to their assumption

sitting on the deck of a yacht
trying to decide if it was
sufficiently large enough
to meet my desires

sitting on a beach in Hawaii
my oceanside villa
mere steps away,
the housekeeper beckoning
with a freshly made drink

lying in Arlington Cemetery
my life marked by a simple
white stone marker, name,
religion, and branch of service

But I am here, writing this,
and have no real complaints.

PARENTHOOD

Two headstones
Name, rank, branch
of service, dates.

One New Jersey, one
Virginia, both Bittle
neither certain.

An email from
another Bittle, never
knew my father

but his was
William, and in
that moment,

James Owen became
a father yet again
and I complete.

And later still
a single picture
he in the back

row and the mirror
agrees that we
are truly family.

LLANYSTUMDWY

The small church is tucked
alongside the narrow road,
its moss encrusted stones
bathed in the November sun.

The headstones in the churchyard
lean askew, sagging under
the weight of time.

The weeds sprout up
answering to a silent call.
We are here, they seem to say,
to reclaim our own,
and we shall do it
in our own time,
in our own way.

The sounds
of the rushing waters
of the bloated Dwyfor river
blanket those whose memories
fade from the stone monoliths.

The yew, trunk overgrown
with ivy, stands a sentinel
between those gone and the sheep
grazing the soccer field.
The church is silent, stolid
existing in that middle world
between indifference and ruin.

Back in the house, the cat
curls in the overstuffed chair
preening her paws and haunches.