If I wanted, every day could be a funeral.
So simple, just put a name into the computer,
wait for the obituary to pop up. Those older guys
are gone, my coaches, teachers, even that camp
counselor from Pine Island, up in Maine, he
could hold his breath underwater for 2 minutes.
Never thought they’d all go away, but there’s
the little candle, Legacy.com warming the screen
with another smiling photo. I read all the comments,
deeply miss her, sincere condolences, with such
a heavy heart. And I feel the weight of age with my
scrolling fingers, try to remember the last time I
saw him, her. What did we talk about? Maybe I’ll
google their kids, see where they ended up.
Minutes pass and I close the laptop,
pretend they’re all still alive.
My favorite dream was when I flew,
as bird or angel, ethereal, I never saw
halo or feathers, or looked at myself in
a mirror, only knew that I could soar high
up in clouds, skim over fields or shingled
rooftops, able to control all this grace.
So I floated back to Taylor Elementary,
hovered by a window, staring at kids writing
in their 6th grade classroom, when I saw him,
a boy I recognized, holding a #2 pencil,
tongue slightly out, concentrating, filling
up notebook lines. I watched for a long while,
then realized he was me.
Killing ants seemed normal.
Six-legged black bodies scrambling
on slab rock patio, drip of
citronella candle wax, my own
backyard Pompeii, dead, then
frozen for all time, and me the
volcano, or God or murderer.
Bored kid waiting for dinner,
smell of pork chops on the grill,
smoke into summer air.
We wanted to follow
railroad tracks and sleep
under stars, maybe cook
up hot dogs without
a strict parent seeing
us wipe the grease
on our jeans. This
was 1986 when Polo
shirts were everything, not
following dreams or watching
morning deer, or thinking
about writing, or what
friendship could mean. But
Stand by Me let
in a little light
so we could remember
who we really are.
Used to sing this
song with my 4th
graders in a classroom
of barred windows and
boys who fought over
pencils. But when they
joined sh-boom, we forgot
about all the rest,
everyone sang like paradise
up above, and life
was a dream, sweetheart.
I suppose it was
Roy Orbison first, for
me it was always
Linda Ronstadt, straight long
hair and bright album
cover smile, couldn’t imagine
her with a worried
mind, or lonesome all
the time, then again
I was only nine
Sam was short for Samurai,
a lion like Akita, let me eat
from his bowl when no one
else was looking. He killed
neighborhood cats, then
one night a car killed him.
There was Popcorn, named
by my sister, part husky
she loved to run away,
nose against screen door, then
escaped on down the road.
We’d yell Popcorn like circus
vendors, until she came back home.
Ginger was part sheltie, but
thought she was a cat,
never more happy than
sitting on our lap. She
loved us, and we loved her
back, there was no other way.
All is stillness in Kentucky woods
where fireflies flicker, earthen stars,
one, then another and another.
With my son, we get to sit and stare
together into glowing darkness,
watch floating journeys. He clicks our
flashlight to say hello, then asks me
to stay close before summer slumber.
Breathing softens, he falls asleep.
I lie next to him for many minutes,
let life be at ease. With dawn there
will be another day, but for now this
is all, this is everything.
he always wanted to
tell people how obsessed
he was with music
piano like mozart endless
dreams before sleep, he
heard his mother in
this sound night after
night, and the doo
wop voices on street
corners like his father
snapping fingers in a
tight white t-shirt, could
have been the fonz
it all surrounds him
these memories of morrissey
sweetness, he was only
joking, gosh that was
poetry when poetry was
supposed to be just
robert frost, maybe dickinson
and these memories are
just his, his ventura
highway in the seventies
summer of bushy hair
and bee gee bearded
angels, like endless youth
living in the air
Standing as if a sundial, my hand, a glove shadowing time.
Waiting for the ball I blink, wink, chew gum, itch my rear,
because nobody is watching me out in the wilderness where
gnats and sun, smell of cut grass envelop me, make me
a tall insect wearing stripes, socks hiked up high. I pace, shuffle
cleats, shout “Hey Batter, Batter,” as if my distant voice matters.
Take away white lines, the small crowd, he’s just a bushy haired
boy in a quiet meadow, looks like he might be talking to himself.
Or god knows who he is or what he is doing out there alone, a
quiet king with monarchs that flutter by. Until wooden bat breaks
daydreams, interrupts his nature, baseball soars over his head.