READING LIST

A good friend, who we had
not seen in COVID time, visited
and we smiled when we saw
that she was reading Heidi,
catching up she said on a too
abbreviated childhood, one
sacrificed to circumstance

My grandson, soon enough
ten, says he is reading
Beowulf, though not the Heaney
translation, so there are two
more books on my books
you must read before you die list.

Despite reading regularly,
the list grows ever longer,
and I am beginning to think
that if I must  complete it,
it may be my best shot, my
only real shot at immortality.

NEW LISTING

Consider them very carefully
for you will have only this chance
and you don’t want to add
those which ought not be included
or be forever burdened by those
you overlooked or misassumed
you wanted to retain.
When you are quite certain
you are finished, that your list
is exactly as you wish it,
that all your dislikes and regrets
are properly delineated, then
walk slowly to the river,
pen at the ready, and write them
with a precise hand upon the water.

STYX IT TO YOU

They clearly don’t get it
and odds are they never will.
They think perhaps prayer will work
or youth will provide some
sort of immunity, maybe
an executive decree, good
luck with that given the
swinging there to that old White House,
with the ridiculous spiked fence
in the middle of an avenue named
first state that’s actually a Commonwealth.
They can’t imagine I have a list
And all I do is make pickups
and drop offs, no thinking, no planning
just show up, tie up to the pier
and then it’s off down and across the River
all day and night, in and out
for a payment you ‘llonly make
begrudgingly, as if I care, for I
have a family to feed too, remember.

MOTHER

 

I called my mother the other day
and she did not answer, which
she would always do when I called.
The dead, I concluded, no longer
play by the rules they did
when they were still alive.
Of course she will call me soon,
disrupting my sleep, and chastise
me for not trying again.
But she will quickly slip into
reading the list of what
she expects from me, for
either living or dead,
mother’s expectations must
always be met, no matter what.