We retired on the same day,
several years ago, my wife and I.
We sat around the house
drinking espresso coffee
and playing canasta till
my wife began to grouse.
We sold the house, bought an RV
and drove around the country
visiting, one by one, our five kids,
all married and in different states.
Were our grandkids doing well?
Were they getting the best?
After we had spent a few weeks
in their driveways in our RV,
the kids would politely suggest
maybe we should go back home.
Trouble is, we'd sold our house.
All we had was the RV.
Again my wife began to grouse
and so we sold the RV
and bought a zeppelin.
Now we float from state to state
over the driveways of our kids
and watch our grandkids
dashing home from school
wearing backpacks like the soldiers
landing on the beach in World War II.
The little darlings are geniuses,
I tell you, light years smarter than
our brilliant kids.
RIGHT TO FLOW
One day the faucets of the world
became irate when people
turned them off too tight and so
they chose to drip in anger,
a cacophony only they could hear.
When their demonstration ended
water flowed out the windows,
down the streets, flooding villages
and cities everywhere, a tsunami
sweeping everyone away.
No faucet could refuse to flood.
They have a union now, you see.
You're not normal.
You never were.
Even in kindergarten
the nun had to call
your parents about
the way you ruined
worksheet after worksheet
putting spots on zebras.
You hated stripes.
Now miles into the jungle
of your dotage, why grouse
about family coming to town
wanting to go on a picnic
before the night game.
They're only being normal.
They have no problem with ants
peppering the potato salad.
Why not tell them yesterday
the doctor said you have gout
and you plan to watch the game
on TV in your recliner,
foot propped. Maybe you'll
see them in the stands while
the Cardinals pound the Cubs,
something as certain as
the Second Coming, something
the kids from Chicago already know.
A SINGULAR REPAST
We are to each other now
many decades later
what we were the day
we got married, a couple
at the kitchen table on
a summer night—she
a slice of watermelon,
corners touching the ceiling,
covering my face in juice
and I the corn she butters
before she devours it.
We eat as fast as we can.
His parents bought a special lock
to keep Nature Boy inside
but he's mechanically inclined
and loves to go outside.
MY THERAPIST'S A LADY
It's all so simple now,
yet it took 30 years
to begin to understand.
It's as though someone
stole the primer I had
and gave me another
in my own language.
It's because you are
who you are
that I've begun
to become who I am.
That sounds too dramatic.
All you did, really, was scream
when you opened the bathroom door,
saw me wrapped in a towel,
standing at attention on a mat,
waiting in my thirtieth year
for the steam to clear
from the cabinet mirror,
waiting for someone
to shout, "At ease."
He remembers loving her
lost in an orchard
peaches, pears, apricots
falling on his head
always out of breath
he never found
then hating her
the night she sent him
whirling into space
dodging stars, planets
no sign of life anywhere
he would ever hear
a songbird welcome spring
or kiss her again.
JIMMY THE BLIND MAN SAYS HE'S IN LOVE
Remember, a blind man
can see things a sighted man can't.
So I'll tell you about her and then
you can tell me whether I'm right.
The first time a man meets her,
his eyes flicker and dart.
Desire, an appropriate reaction.
The first time a woman meets her,
her eyes pop out and coil on her forehead.
Envy, another appropriate reaction.
Today, who can blame either?
Today, who believes the canard
about the true, the good, the beautiful,
in theory or in a woman?
I never believed it
till the day that I met her.
And you won't believe it either
unless you do what I did—frisk her for flaws
that will allow you to live as you are,
as you were, as I was when I met her.
As for me, I'm no longer the same.
Perhaps you can help me.
The day that I met her, I was sitting
on pillows propped against the wall not far from Walmart.
I had my cane and my cup properly positioned.
I was ready for business.
And then I heard heels type on the pavement
the story of my life. I could hear in those heels
a woman who knew me although we had never met.
I had my baseball cap upside down on the sidewalk
between my outstretched legs.
It was full of my wares—pencils, spearmint gum
and Tootsie Pops, free, for the children.
When her heels stopped in front of my spot,
I sensed this lady had bent over my cap
and was checking my wares. Her hair
was a waterfall licking at my knees.
I was inebriated by her scent.
She selected two pencils and didn't ask price
so I knew that I had a real customer.
And then with a wave of her hand she let
paper money float through the air
into my cup. Believe me, a blind man
can see with his mind the butterfly
of paper money float to his cup.
Any denomination, large or small,
is a Monarch afloat on a zephyr.
Customers, you see, usually drop change.
A blind man can tell you what coins
a customer has dropped by the clink in his cup.
So when I heard her Monarch take to the air,
I forgot about my teeth and smiled up at her.
I usually don't smile on weekdays.
I used to smile on weekends till Mother
got hit by that Hummer. She was never the same.
On Saturdays she used to bring meals in tinfoil
labeled in braille to tuck in my freezer.
She wanted me to know which meals were where
but I was never able to read her braille
so I ate whatever the microwave served.
This new lady in heels, however,
has stolen my bereavement and taken me captive.
She has me smiling. I've been stoned on her musk
since the day that I met her and I'm getting more wobbly.
Everywhere I go her scent surrounds me.
I'm an addict now and I need my cane and my dog
just to get around the apartment.
So, please tell everyone now in the parade passing by
to listen to her as I did and in time they may hear,
as I can hear now, a year later, the cherubim sing
as she blooms with our child like a sunflower in summer
while I wonder, I try.
DIAMOND OF JELLO
From my stool in the diner I watch
the old woman with elm tree arms
command the big booth in back
and roar for a menu,
take a half hour to read it
before placing her order.
Watching her eat, I realize
life for her is a dollop of whip cream,
a twirling ballerina, on a diamond of Jello.
I raise my water glass
in a silent toast. Bravo, I whisper.
I wish her good cheer.
AT THE HOP
Two robins hopped
across the lawn
at dawn, one
behind the other.
The first one hopped
to get away.
The second hoped
to be a father.
Our thanks to today's contributors for brightening up our Friday, and a note that the new WTF! from Rattlesnake Press is now available. There are 20 free copies at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, or you can order them for $2 (to cover postage) by clicking WTF??? in the links at the top of this page (or from rattlesnakepress.com/wtf.html). Contributors are, of course, entitled to have their copies mailed to them for free; write to me at email@example.com if you haven't gotten yours yet.
And speaking of The Book Collector, there is a new open mic there now on the third Sundays of the month from 4-6pm, five minutes per reader. Head on down there this week and check it out!