Her Own Way (Written September 29, 2017)

Her Own Way

Her coat streaked with rain,
her shoes caked in mud,
her hair plastered to her skull,
where has she been,

And why has she come back?
She wanted to be left alone,
to make her own way,
her own mistakes,
and not always play

By somebody else’s rules,
which, in any case, never made
much sense, to her mind,
though she went along with them,
until now, so as not

To create a stir. Blend in,
she told herself. Remain calm.
What she really wanted
was to disappear into the woodwork,
the way a grasshopper, sensing danger,

Will disappear into the weeds,
or a bird, in a split second,
will dart into the trees.
The distance between here and there
is the distance between life and death.

I’m lost, she moans,
and will not listen to reason.
To argue with her
is to commit treason.

Things Happen (Written September 22, 2017)

Things Happen

He dipped deeply into the dish,
turned his hand over several times.
An even number meant he would get
the first crack, an odd number meant

She would. It was a game they played
because life seemed to be giving them
fewer and fewer choices, and even those
had become increasingly pointless,
save for the one that nagged,

Whether to live or to die, that was
always there, in the back of their minds.
Who needed who, and who could get along
just fine by himself, everybody knew.
Sometimes he liked to stay home,

Sometimes she did too, though not
as often. If it rained or snowed,
they might agree what to do,
or they might not. It was hard
to tell. They had such different ideas.

But if there was one thing they saw
eye to eye on it was the need
never to equivocate. Make a decision
and stick to it, otherwise
what’s the point?

Sure, things happen,
and you can either let them
get you down, or you can deal with them,
like the turning of the seasons.

Drunk on Words (Written September 18, 2014)

Drunk on Words

 

My journey has come to an end.

I’ve completed the circuit.

I’ve come home.

 

The house swims up close,

With its blaze of kitchen lights,

So bright I cover my eyes.

 

The door to the garage begins

Slowly, jerkily, to rise,

Inviting me in, but something

 

Holds me back. I sit there

A long time without moving.

For weeks, for months,

 

I’ve traveled the land, gathering

Impressions, discovering truths

About myself I never knew.

 

I had a rhythm to my day

Which I’ll be sad to give up.

Drunk on words, drunk

 

On the beauty of the line,

What will be left of me

When I’m done?

Born To This (Written September 17, 2014)

Born To This

 

In his own bedroom for the first time,

Lonely and unable to sleep,

He took a quick slug of what was left

 

In the bottle, because the drinking portion

Of his evening had come to an end.

Women are changing before everyone’s

 

Eyes, he said to himself, drunkenly.

Think about that change. Think about

What is happening in this room tonight.

 

He stood by the window, looking out

On the street. He had never seen

His street in the middle of the night.

 

The houses were dark and almost hidden

Behind the shaggy canopy of trees.

He was not angry with her, he was angry

 

With himself, because he could not stop

What he was doing. He had no reason

To be angry with her, she was perfectly

 

In the right. A small voice began to speak

Elsewhere in the apartment, but too softly,

Too distantly for him to hear. Tomorrow

 

Was his birthday. Had she completely

Forgotten? He dressed himself

In silks and satins. He was born to this.

Insects Can Defecate (Written September 16, 2014)

Insects Can Defecate

 

Being alive as long as we have,

We don’t feel it as much.

We sit around, mumbling

 

And complaining, or staring

Into space. A few of the women

And one or two men push their walkers

 

Up and down the halls. Wanderers,

We call them. The food is not bad,

I’ll say that, and the coffee.

 

Insects can defecate,

We learned that in biology.

They have intestinal tracts,

 

Anuses, and everything,

Just like us. The doctor

Comes once a week,

 

On Thursday. Life

Grinds you down,

Pounds you into submission.

 

Tuesday morning we have

Art class, and I wish

It was more often.

 

What I like is working

In color, and best of all

I don’t have to talk about it.

 

Sometimes, after supper,

A man plays the piano

And sings to us.

 

We gather around,

We smile and we clap,

But it’s never for long.

Perfectly Timed (Written September 15, 2014)

Perfectly Timed

 

I think he’s pleased,

The way he smiles at me

And keeps looking at me

 

With the wide, innocent

Eyes of a child, as if

There is so much more

 

He wants to tell me

But doesn’t know where to begin.

He knows he won’t be able

 

To find the words,

So he doesn’t even try.

I’ve kept the photo

 

All the years of our estrangement

To remind me of the good times

We once had, before things turned

 

Sour, and he left. It’s tangible proof

That I never stopped thinking of him,

Though we never spoke.

 

In the photo we’re standing on a beach,

His arm around my shoulder.

He’s very happy

 

And I’ve got my usual frown.

But this is the day, just before

Or just after the photo was snapped,

 

That we saw a fish hawk

Dive straight down out of the sky

And snare a trout.

 

It was so perfectly timed,

That dive, so quick, so efficient,

We never forgot.

His Heart’s Desire (Written September 14, 2014)

His Heart’s Desire

 

The glorious weather of late summer

Continued as if nothing had changed.

He felt alien, completely different,

 

Distant. Only very late at night,

When all motion had stopped,

Or was frozen, did he find rest.

 

The ache that had kept him awake

And put his resolve to the test,

Lifted a little, like early morning

 

Fog over a river, when the sun warms

The air. Something in him was fighting

For its life, but so silently, so distantly,

 

He felt he had nothing to do with it.

Barely a whisper, it fluttered somewhere

Near the back of his brain. What his body

 

Wanted was one thing, what he wanted

Was another. Like a leaf falling from a tree,

He felt detached from the mass of humanity.

I Haven’t Been the Same (Written September 13, 2014)

I Haven’t Been the Same

 

We have to go slow, I hope you don’t mind.

I haven’t been the same

Since the day of the accident.

 

The leg was pretty badly mangled.

I’m lucky to have it, they say.

I bit off the tip of the tongue,

 

And can’t help thinking it’s still there.

The worst thing is the lungs,

Which keep filling with fluid.

 

It feels like I’m drowning.

I spend most of my time in bed,

Or in a wheelchair.

 

Physio twice a week, which I hate.

All those repetitions!

So this is great.

 

Thank you for taking the trouble.

I’ll be back on my feet

In a couple of weeks.

The One for Me (Written September 12, 2014)

The One for Me

 

I stood by the roadside,

Waiting for someone

To give me a ride.

 

The cars roared by,

A little too close

For comfort.

 

It was late in the day,

And I was lost

In the glare of the sun.

 

I was leaving home,

Because nobody knew

Who I was anymore.

 

I hardly knew myself.

Every week or so

Someone would die,

 

And someone new

Would take their place.

We’d all sit around,

 

Mumbling and complaining,

Or staring into space.

I found it very hard

 

To get through the day,

Very hard to sleep at night.

But when I saw that car,

 

Coming closer all the time,

And ripping up the tar,

I knew it was the one for me.

I Must Not Do Anything (Written September 11, 2014)

I Must Not Do Anything

 

What I want is not to be in this box

Any longer. What I want is a way

To let her go, into whatever life she’s found.

 

After all these years she’s lost to me,

Perhaps forever. What is most profoundly

Hurtful is not knowing what happened to her,

 

Where she went that day, why she never came back.

I am waiting for her to come back. I search

For reasons, for answers, and there are none.

 

What I hope is that she is well, wherever

She is. One day, perhaps, she will phone

Or text me and tell me she loves me. Until then,

 

I must not do anything to hold her back,

And keep her from living the life she’s chosen.

When she calls, I will write it down, every word.