TWO POEMS FOR ANN MENEBROKER, d. 2016
—Art Beck, San Francisco, CA
On the porch, skirt tucked, waiting for rain as the false
spring falters, you spot him sauntering up the walk:
A bit furtive. Vaguely foreign. Something primitive
and overly formal, in the way he climbs your
few steps, grimaces, then plunks himself next
to you on the swing. Something akin to
the aura, not an odor, of tobacco.
The kind of haircut they don’t do over here.
A quiet little guy with no rhyme or reason
to him. As hard and compact as steel,
but his coldness somehow numbs your fear.
You smile, and when you go back in the house
to fix dinner, he follows as naturally
as your shadow. There’s nothing to do
but set an extra plate.
Sitting there, he takes just one potato, one
mushroom and a carrot to be polite.
You never notice him eating, but
when you take up the dishes to wash,
the food is gone. He seems to like TV,
the news shows, an old PBS movie.
When it’s time for bed, he nods as
you close your door. You don’t care
where—or if—he sleeps. And in the morning,
he’s sitting there in different, but
still strange clothes. Friends visit, come
and go, waiting for winter to end the drought.
They nod to him, he almost nods. And
everyone ignores him as best they can.
Then one day—it seems just yesterday he
first appeared—you find him packing
his small cheap bag. He offers
an iron hand and winks: “We’re going.”
You make a point of not asking where.
“Don’t look back,” he warns. “Lot’s wife
was frozen into salt.” He shakes his head.
“Orpheus, lost his heart.” He gestures
toward your suitcase. “I’ve already packed
your universe for you to bring along.”
The suitcase is as light as air.
You close your eyes and lean
on him. And let him guide you,
desperately pretending to be blind.
(written in 2009)
Non fui, fui, non sum...
Annie, Annie you’re ashes now, who
once was blushing flesh. Is it a journey
or empty air? An old man mourning
an old, old friend really wants to know.
Sooner, I’m sure, than I’ll like, I’ll be
joining you. Will we babble like budgies
in a paradise of gossip, or stare, as secretive
as headstones? Where did our laughter live
until we met, that lifetime ago? Or before
we were even born, those million, trillion
years we weren’t? There’ll be billions,
trillions more when we aren’t. But
Annie, for a little while, just talking
on this lost silly earth, we were.
(written in 2016)
Our thanks to Art Beck (Dennis Dybeck) for these poems today. About the above photo, he says: This photo is from Paul Fericano, a good friend of Annie’s, who writes: “Attached is my favorite photo of Annie which sits on my dresser. Roger Langton took it at Annie's house in Wilton while we were there for a barbecue in 1977. We had met the year before and the photo is so her. She's wearing a t-shirt that shows a mouse flipping off a cat with the caption: ‘The Last Great Act of Defiance’.”
Thanks again, Art and Paul!
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