Monday, September 11, 2017

I Won't Forget


Every year, on this day,
I try to write something
I think will be poignant,
honest and help to
honor the heartache
that still lingers for so many.

As time marches on, the
memories of that awful day,
start to get hazy around the
edges. It’s not sepia toned however,
it’s still vibrantly colorful in it’s
horror and sadness.

And I know
I will never forget it.
Even when I’m a toothless old
man.

I’m sure I’ll be able recount every
detail of my 9/11 day, even in the depths of senility.
Seeing the second plane hit the tower
on TV as I ironed my pants for work, the
silence on the train as it pulled into
Union station, the pale faces in my
office, the sad hug I shared with a co-worker
whose birthday is today.

I’ll remember crouching next to
my boss’s desk in her office that
faced the Sears Tower and her telling
me that the office was closing and to
go home.  The fear in the voices
and tears on the cheeks as we watched
the tragedy unfold back in a bar in Union Station.

I remember a guy at the bar telling
me how we were now at war with some
other nation and me telling him that I hoped
to never see him on a battlefield and that this
peaceful meeting in this crowded bar
would be the only time we’d meet.
We shook hands.

I won’t forget the crowds waiting for
the trains, panicking when our train
was moved from one track to another,
and the mass rush to escape Downtown.
I’ll never forget the terrified faces of
the people rushing past me.

I will always remember the old woman,
slowly walking with a cane next to me
along the platform as people bustled around us
in abject fear, and her comment to me that
this was nothing new to her and she’d been
through it before.  I remember taking some
comfort in her dignified and calm demeanor in
the whirlwind of panic.

I remember the well dressed man, in a nice suit,
arm in a sling, crying within the crowd because
someone had bumped into his already injured shoulder
and the disdain I had for his selfish weeping. I looked
at him with such disgust as he cried about his
arm in light of the tragedy unfolding.

I remember boarding the packed train and calming those
around me as rumors of seven other planes allegedly
still in the air, telling them there were no other planes
in the sky. Not a single plane was flying, anywhere.
The nervous chatter of people not sure what to do,
how to act or what to say to each other.

When I got to my train stop, I got off and found my
mother had been on the same train, and we hugged
each other  on the platform and it was the most natural
thing in the world. I heard the passengers that saw us hug
“ooh” and “ahh”, likely hoping they would soon embrace
their loved ones.

We went home, watched buildings fall, saw lives end, all on
TV.  Everything we had become accustomed to stopped that
day. The things that seems so important,
were now terribly mundane.  I still feel the
shock and sadness of it all. It became part of who I
am and how I will forever view the world.

So when you see me, maybe sixty years from now,
when I’m in my hundreds, I’ll tell you all about it.
And I’ll make sure, even when I don’t know where
my shoes or teeth are, that I remember this day.  

Friday, September 8, 2017

Perspectives


“This looks like a pile of junk,” she said.
“What…,” I replied, “what do you mean?”
“Yeah, this is all just garbage, It’s
shoelaces and torn notebook paper,
rocks and bits of glass,” she said.

“Those are the shoelaces I wore when
I was on the track team in grammar school and
I came in third place in the big race. The coach
was so proud of me that he took me to get apple
pie after the meet. Those shoelaces are priceless,” I said.

“Well, they’re just ratty shoelaces to me,” she said.

“C’mon, these torn notebook pages, these are
what’s left of the first love note I ever got from
the girl who would become the role model for
every woman I would ever date and love,” I said.

“Just dirty bits of paper to me,” she said.

“These rocks I found in the summer of 1993
along Lake Geneva, when my friends and I
were the closest we ever were, and we skipped
them along the water, and put them in our pockets
to put on our dressers,” I said.

“Yeah, rocks. Great. Just rocks,” she said.

“What about these pieces of colored glass? Surely
you see their value,” I asked.

“Nope, just broken glass,” she said.

“These pieces of glass are from a stain glass window
and they showed me how beautiful the world could be if
you just looked at it a little differently than the
norm,” I said.

“Well, it doesn’t mean anything to me and
since it doesn’t mean anything to me,
it has no value. It’s petty junk,” she said.  

She left in a huff and I looked at
the items so important to me, and
I knew they meant nothing to her,
but there was still no reason for her
to call it petty junk.

I hope no one ever judges her things,
the things she has carefully saved in the
bubble wrap of memory, petty junk or garbage.
That would be too sad for her.  

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Rummaging

I brought this trunk
with stuff to unpack.
There’s a bunch of things
in here that I need to
unload.

I’m just going to open this
large steamer trunk, right here
on your living room floor,
if you don’t mind. Of course
you don’t mind.

Let’s see; here’s my old
broken heart, a cracked
mirror, a tube a glue, that
hat I thought I lost the day
she left me.

Oooh; here’s that loyalty
card from the sub shop that closed,
I was one hole punch away from
that free sandwich. Here’s the
love tester, still broken I see.

Here’s an old tee-shirt from that
short lived garage band, “The Megladons”.
Here’s my ray gun, random mismatched
batteries, a magnifying glass, a Kit
Carson comic book.

A cheese grater, used effectively on that
old broken heart, her hair clip, a high school
love note, a doodle of a man weeping on a
park bench, study notes for The Old Man and
the Sea.

I think this is all worth something right?
I can put it on the table in your garage,
put price tags on it all? I think it’ll only add
to the glamour of your rummage sale, for sure.
It’s the stuff of life. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Any Relief

Is there any comfort in
words when there’s
blood in the water
and the sharks are circling?

“Hang on,” we say.
“We’re praying for you,” we post.
“Our hopes are with you,” we shout.
“We’re here for you,” we wish.

Can any words besides,
“You’re fully insured and will
be adequately compensated,”
really do anything to help.

Waves of sympathy,
ocean currents of empathy,
are fine and good, but no match
for actual ocean waves.

Where is the power of words
in the abyss of horror?
Are words the afterthought of
the aftershock?

It’s a uselessness I feel to use
my own words to be anything
other than a shill for the vague
emotional notions of my heart.  

I want the words to carry the burdens
away, but maybe I’m not that smart,
or maybe I’m not that good of a poet,
or maybe, just shutting up is the right thing to do.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Will They Call Me Mister


I’ve more gray hairs than
I used to, my chin whiskers
now fill in with snowy patches
of stubble. I ache in places
for no reason and am
usually exhausted by
9:00 pm.

I still don’t feel like a
grown-up though.
I’m not even sure what
a grown-up is.
I’ve no children,
I’ve no wife,
no mortgage, or grown-up things.

What makes a grown-up?
Is it knowing things that
younger people don’t?
Because I certainly do that,
but I’ve always done that.
Is it money? Success?
Vitamin pills every morning?

I get curmudgeonly and surly
and irritated by stupidity, is
that being grown-up?
I tell those damn kids to
get off my lawn, in my head,
because I don’t have a lawn,
for lousy kids to play on.

Is it political awareness that makes
a grown-up? Clearly not, what with all
the childishness going on now.
Is it being able simply to do and say
whatever I want within the context of
the law? Doesn’t really feel like that’s
what being a grown-up is.

Grown-ups sleep on their couches,
and tinker and meddle,
Grown-ups worry about money, gas,
car payments, insurance, dental care,
sexual failure, liver disease, being wanted
for who they are and not what they should be,
and having to clean up after themselves.

If that’s all it is to be a grown-up,
then I’m not sure I want to be a part
of it all. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing
and maybe one day, that kid in the mirror,
with wrinkles and gray hair will finally look
familiar, and he’ll wink at me.
And we’ll laugh through our senility.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Seeking Wisdom, Again


The Great Guru of Guru’s,
the wisest of the wise,
the most knowledgeable of
knowable knowledge,
sat atop a snow swept
mountain. The cold winds
blowing through his long
scraggly white beard and
wisps of white hair remaining
on his head.

His eyes were closed as he
breathed in deeply and silently,
he exhaled gently and slowly,
over and over, he barely seemed
to move, as if he was part of the
mountain itself.  He was one with it,
 the snow, the winds,
rains, rumbling of the mountain
when it shuddered. He was the
image of peacefulness and harmony.

The Great Guru, arms and legs folded,
lotus position, remained motionless as
a great grunting rose from the temple
steps leading up to the Guru.  The grunting,
followed by wheezing, coughing and cursing,
soon revealed a raggedy man. Dirty, bruised,
battered and unshaved.  He fell at the feet of
the Guru, after climbing the 1,000 steps to
the mountain temple the Guru occupied in his
corporal form.

“You’re holiness, great Guru of the mountain,
I’ve come again for your guidance,” said the dirty,
disheveled man.
The Guru didn’t move from his breathing position.
“I gave up all my worldly goods; I tried to treat each man
as my brother, each woman my sister, I’ve loved
without hesitation, I’ve fed the poor, tended to the
sick, kissed my enemies and I meditate each day;
I’ve given up meat, I’ve been beaten up, I’ve
made each sunrise matter,” said the man.

The Guru still with his eyes closed,
breathing gently, remained silent.
“Yet, I’m not happy. I’ve not attained
any enlightenment, I’m just as miserable
and scared as I was the last time I was here,
when I first came to you for advice,” said the man.
He began to sob into his hands and wail.
He cried and moaned, hugged his shoulders
and rocked back and forth, snot running
from his nose.

The Guru opened his eyes and looked at the man.
The Guru’s face was calm and gentle.
“Did you vote,” asked the Guru.
“Huh,” said the man, wiping the tears from his cheeks.
“Did you vote in the Presidential election,” asked
the Guru.
“Well, no. I thought we were above such trivial things,”
said the man.
“Oh, well, there’s your problem,” said the Guru.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Eclipse Prescription

Next Monday there is a Solar
Eclipse that will pass over the
United States of America.
It’s the first time in 26 years
that it’ll happen.  I think we need
it.

The path of the eclipse will
pass over 14 States. The Sun will
be blotted out by the Moon for
varying times, Southern Illinois
will have the longest eclipse period
with 2m 44s of totality.

Meaning the Moon will cast a
shadow over Illinois for a full
two minutes and 44 seconds. And it’ll
be dark. Dark as night. The total
Celestial event will last for a full
1h 33m 16.8s.

The event literally happens at the
speed of light. It’ll happen no matter
what is going on down here on Earth.
In fact, the cosmos doesn’t care
what is happening on Earth.  

The divides between people,
ideologies, religions, Nations,
and politics are all meaningless
compared to the pure majesty of
nature and the universe.  The
Sun and the Moon, don’t care.

They don’t care if you’re Black,
White, Brown, Yellow, Red, or
every conceivable color known.
The Sun, Moon, Stars, just don’t
care. A great Shadow will traverse
the Globe with or without you. 

The bigotry, hatred, and divisiveness
we heap on each other on this
insignificant space body is just dumb
when you get down to it.
There’s no point really.
Your perceptions are not permanent.

So, I really can’t believe I have
to say it all again. I’m not sure
how many times will be enough.
Your beliefs in one Race, Creed,
Theology, or superiority is
a waste and a weight on us all.

As the shadow of the Moon
passes over your homes I hope
it’ll help to show you how small
you are and how little the universe
cares about your point of view.
It doesn’t care about my point of view.

A Country, cast in shadow for a short time,
a mini Dark Age, hopefully to emerge bathed
in enlightenment, about who we are on the
World and who we want to be in the short
time we have.  Because in the dark,
we’re all the same.