His Kind of Funny (Written November 19)

His Kind of Funny

 

He was funny, although he wasn’t

The kind of funny that people

Immediately noticed. He liked

 

To remain in the background,

As if, exhausted, he had just hiked

A great distance and arrived

 

At this house, this party, by accident.

His sense of humor was not contrived.

He listened to what people said,

 

And then took it a bit further, like

Squeezing an orange almost as red

As blood. There was nothing left,

 

When he was done, but the absurdity of half

Baked ideas. His kind of funny was like the theft

Of something very precious, and very feeble.

Sad Song (Written November 18)

Sad Song

 

The tune attaches to the night’s

Lateness, which becomes heavy

With waiting. The wasted crowd

 

Spills onto the street. The few

Who remain, at the bar, with bowed

Heads, sit singly, or near a friend.

 

A woman sings the words, softly,

Of the sad song, which has no end.

It is her own song, her own life.

 

The rhythm is light and easy,

but insistent, like a sharp knife,

Which cuts without tearing.

 

Everyone has a story to tell, but

It’s late, and we’ve stopped caring

Anymore, one way or the other.

 

It’s closing time, so thanks

And good night. Call my brother.

He’ll find me down at the levee.

The Lock (Written November 17)

The Lock

 

The lock was between me and Dad.

It was our secret. When he opened it,

I could come out. But sometimes

 

He was gone for days, and I didn’t know

What to do with myself. What crimes

Was he cooking up, while I tossed

 

And turned in my bed, unable to sleep?

I cried and once or twice I almost lost

Hope that he would return. I wanted

 

To make him stay, but I couldn’t.

I knew that he was being hunted

And had other things on his mind.

 

I could forgive him for so much.

But for him to think I could find

My own way, alone, without

 

His love and guidance, that

Was wrong of him! Shout!

Shout out! It’s broken!

Time To Go (Written November 16)

Time To Go

 

Her back was still to him.

She’d said what she had to say.

It was time for him to go.

 

He wanted to remember her like this,

Self-absorbed, strong, with no

Animosity, just a wish to touch

 

Some deeper vein. She was ready,

He knew that. He loved her very much

And he would accede to her, though it tore

 

Him to pieces. To be away from her,

Even for a moment, was a miserable sore

To contemplate. He hardly knew where

 

To begin. In the next room he could hear

Music playing, something by Bach, so clear

And so beautiful that he wanted to cry.

 

He had to go, he knew very well.

To stay would be the same as to die.

Better, for everyone, if he found his own way.

Art Class (Written November 15)

Art Class

 

He looked at me again, stealthily,

Unable to remember my name.

I told him, for the third time.

 

He held his canvas, chest high,

For me to see, and all the grime

From all those years of terrible

 

Drudgery was washed away in a smile

So sweet it was almost unbearable.

Deep blues, like a seascape, flecked

 

With white, abstract, except for one

Shape like a fish flying over the deck

Of a ship. Behind him, three tables,

 

Set at angles, with other works of art

By other participants, like fables

From another world, where people

 

Could talk freely and always find

The word they wanted, not this feeble

Hungering for what was no longer there.

 

The walls and the floors a light beige,

Very bright with the sun coming in. Airy.

Golden. And his look, steady, without shame.

Knock on Wood (Written November 14)

Knock on Wood

 

Still, looked at from another vantage point,

The experience might do him some good.

Somewhere along the line he has to hit

 

Rock bottom. The path he’s been on, these last

Few months, has led him to the edge of the pit.

It’s no longer sustainable. He’s dragging

 

Everyone down, even his best friends,

Who’ve never stopped loving him and bragging

About his youth, innocence, and good looks.

 

In truth he is an innocent, but unhinged

In a fundamental way. A little time locked

Away in that dreadful place might teach

 

Him a thing or two. God knows, nothing

We’ve tried at home has had any effect.

It’s been like talking to wood.

Every Touch a Kiss (Written November 13)

Every Touch a Kiss

 

To remember this seemed the most

Important thing in the world.

Nothing else mattered, not fame,

 

Not money, not power, not even

Love, but simply to have my name

Spoken, and to feel someone’s arms

 

Around me, and someone’s kiss

Fall softly on my cheek. It harms

No one, least of all a man

 

Like me, near the end, who wanted

So little, who, for so long, ran

From such consolation. If I forgot

 

Her name, and what role she played

In my vanishing life, it did not

Matter very much. I felt her next

 

To me, her touch (every touch a kiss)

On my face, my shoulders, my neck.

I snuggled close to her, in her furled.

What He Counted On (Written November 12)

What He Counted On

 

For a moment I thought his tone

Had taken on a special meaning.

He talked about his trip home,

 

How lonely he’d felt, and wondered

Why I had refused to come with him.

He was having trouble, he said,

 

Understanding how I could be

So selfish. Where were my

Priorities? Some day he’d write

 

A book about what happened.

He didn’t care how sorry

I might feel after the fact.

 

We had an agreement, didn’t we,

That I’d always have his back.

It’s what he counted on.

 

It’s what made life bearable.

If I no longer felt that way,

He wanted to know.

Remembrance Day (Written November 11)

Remembrance Day

 

The cows tore up the grass

With yellow teeth. The earth

Was bare where dead men lay.

 

A thousand strong we marched,

Where better men had played

And lost. Who would ring

 

The bell and call them home?

If any among you would be king

For a day, then seal the deal.

 

If any among you would be master

In your own house, then heal

Yourself. Once fertile, the land

 

Had been worked to death.

Men’s bones had turned to sand.

Forgotten, they had lost their worth.

Shells (Written November 10)

Shells

 

Our classroom was large, with a high ceiling.

We had never seen anything like it before.

The rectangular windows let in undulating

 

Waves of light. We sat at our desks, a girl,

A boy, a girl, and so on, in an alternating

Sequence. Chandeliers hung on long chains.

 

We could barely hear the teacher, who stood

On a dais with her back to us. The stains

From yesterday’s mêlée could still

 

Be seen, faintly. We knew enough

To keep our mouths shut. The hill

Behind the school, covered in snow,

 

Rose almost vertically to the tree line.

One by one we came forward, to show

A sample of the shells we’d found,

 

As instructed. She neither approved

Nor disapproved. The sound

They made came from a distant shore.