So here I am, all decked out
in a new suit from Brooks Brothers,
haberdasher to corporate stars.
My wife just got here, rattled.
The kids have been here for hours,
flying in for the occasion.
My wife will make certain
I look as spiffy as possible.
The oldest boy just told her
a neighbor has agreed
to cut the grass, rake the leaves
and shovel the snow, chores
I performed for decades in return
for a mug of coffee and wedge of pie.
Now my wife is asking the undertaker
to puff out my tie, something she did
before I’d go to the office, armed
with a thermos and brown paper bag.
BIG BET AT AN OLD-TIMERS' CARD GAME
The morning paper says
Debbie Reynolds is 82.
Sixty years ago, the little doll
married Eddie Fisher,
balladeer back in our time.
Remember, Eddie dumped Debbie
and married Liz Taylor who
put the oomph in technicolor.
Then Liz dumped Eddie
and married Michael Todd,
the aging movie mogul.
Todd died in a plane crash
and Fisher's dead now, too.
So's the beautiful Ms. Taylor.
Tell me this before you deal again:
When Debbie gets her obit
which of us, and I'll take bets,
will be around to read it.
WHEN COMPUTERS CRASH
Take it from me
sitting on the edge of this star
in the universe with
meteors zipping around me.
Worse things can happen
than having a computer crash
and all your data lost while
chatting in a hotel lobby
with a woman you met in a bar
then having a heart attack
and falling to the floor
having your bladder burst.
You lie there deceased,
a nuisance in a puddle of piss,
as the woman strolls away
and guests in the lobby quiver
until the manager says
he’s made a phone call.
You don’t need a computer now.
An ambulance will take you away.
Todd’s tired of being odd
he tells his wife as he lights
candles next to their breakfast tea
and pours two steaming cups.
He wants to be normal, he says,
the rest of his life
no matter the changes
he’ll have to make
in his modus operandi.
It will be worth the effort,
not having people gawk
and mumble under their breath.
He pours more tea
and butters some toast
and tells his wife
he’ll never again excavate
his Roman nose
with his pinkie.
He’ll dig with his index
IN THE DESERT OF IRAQ
It took awhile to find Osama.
It will take awhile to find
the Briton with his knife
in the desert of Iraq.
They may bring him back
unless a verdict’s rendered
in the desert
enabling the Briton
to discover in a second
all the virgins
awaiting his arrival
unless he finds
he’s sitting with Osama
blackened on a stick.
Before he's had his morning coffee
he puts a silencer on the pistol,
goes from room to room, puts
a bullet in the head of those
sleeping in their beds, takes
a drive in the country and calls
his neighbor Walt and asks him
to check on Martha and the kids.
He’s at their country home, he says,
closing it up for the winter,
something he does every year
the weekend before Halloween.
He tells Walt that Martha and the kids
should be home from church by now
but no one's answering the phone.
ON LEARNING A NEW WORD LATE IN LIFE
Harold, I'm sorry to call you at three in the morning
but you're older than I am and you may have less time
to relish a word you may not have heard of.
It's "rejectamenta," and I stumbled upon it
early this morning when I couldn't sleep.
I wish I had found rejectamenta years ago.
It means exactly what you might think:
"matter rejected as useless or worthless."
Imagine how useful that word would have been
in our younger days as a weapon of choice.
I would have shouted it often when leaving a job
or leaving a nice woman who thought we should marry.
I would have extended my arm like Adolph and shouted
"Rejectamenta!" with the roar of "Sieg Heil!"
For the remainder of my life I will shout it when nettled.
I will shout it at the waiter in that Polish restaurant
the next time he plops pickled pigs feet
in front of me obviously short on gel.
I loathe those feet but the gel is marvelous.
We may be aging, Harold, but we have a word now
we can whip out of our quivers whenever we're miffed.
Perhaps the embalmer will tattoo it on my forehead
if my wife isn't looking, assuming she survives.
Carry on, Harold. The finish line is just ahead.
AMID THE SILENCE OF IMAMS
across the sand
amid the silence
amid the silence
What will it take
to stop the carnage
amid the silence