Those Days (Written May 20)

Those Days

 

But she only glared back at me,

As if I was to blame.

It was not the first time

 

They’d exchanged angry

Words, but what could I do?

I was their father, and neither

 

Was inclined for the moment to pay

Much attention to what I had to say.

There was a time when things

 

Were different, when she

Counted on me for support

And encouragement, but those days,

 

Apparently, are long gone,

And it’s hard to see any way

I’ll ever get them back again.

Drowning Woman (Written May 19)

Drowning Woman

 

You don’t think she was in love with him,

Do you? She was incapable of loving

Anyone, in her condition. She was like

 

A drowning woman, casting around

For a life-line. She couldn’t love

Somebody else because she was totally

 

Tied up in her own struggle to survive.

Think of the traumas she’d suffered,

Beginning when she learned that her husband

 

Had been cheating on her. Then he lost

Everything in a get-rich-quick scheme

And her support payments came to a sudden

 

And brutal end. Her only child disowned

Both his parents, and said he never wanted

To see them again. She was in a state of shock.

 

She thought she was in love, but she

Was fooling herself, and lying to the man.

What she liked about him is that he had

 

Money, power, and ambition. If there was

One thing she had not lost, it was her high

Opinion of herself. Your situation was nothing

 

Like hers. Sure, you had just left your lover,

Or she’d left you, I’m never quite sure which,

But you were not drowning, you were starting

 

Fresh. You knew what you wanted. You had

Your own business and a vision for the future.

I didn’t save you from anything. I found you.

But Is It Any Good? (Written May 18)

But Is It Any Good?

 

He had just composed it himself,

So he was very taken up with it.

He read it over twice for flaws

 

But could not find any. His wife

Saw nothing to give her pause,

And nodded her approval, though

 

With little enthusiasm, he was quick

To note. The real test would come

When he read it out loud for his friends

 

To get their reaction. If they listened

In silence, or with a mumbled assent,

Or at most perhaps a faint smile,

 

He would know that something

Was seriously wrong. He wanted shouts

Of encouragement, at the very least a show

 

Of laughter where appropriate. He might

Email it, late one night, to a fellow poet,

And if she wrote back “I love it!”

 

He’d feel good about that, of course, but

Never know if she really meant shove it.

One day, he’d send it to a publisher

 

To be published. Then it would be

Out there, and he could forget about it,

Because it would no longer be his.

After Watching Blue Jasmine (Written May 17)

After Watching Blue Jasmine

 

Whatever they might say, she would not

Believe them. It was not possible. They

Were jealous, that’s all. She knew him

 

Better than they did. He made them look

Like amateurs by comparison, so screw him.

They’d gone to all the best schools,

 

And here he was, a man from nowhere,

Beating them at their own game, the fools.

She went walking one day, in the penny

 

Arcade, and the music was blue,

As befitted her mood, and Benny

Was his name. He was not a tall man,

 

But he had a smile that put her at ease,

And a clarity of mind she admired,

And she said to herself, as well this one

 

As any other. Something in her willfully

Refused to see him as he was, and to shun

The liar and the cheat, until it was too late.

Warning Cries (Written May16)

Warning Cries

 

They called us all the names in the world,

And threatened to come down and peck out

Our eyes if we didn’t turn around.

 

We had as much right to be there

As they, and so we held our ground

And waited for them to let us through.

 

But the longer we stood there, challenging

Them, the louder and angrier they grew.

My son thought we should push on ahead

 

And take our chances, but I held back,

More cautious, a little afraid, I said,

That what they were saying was as much

 

A warning as a threat. We climbed higher

Up the mountain, where there was such

Deep snow that finally I had to admit

 

I’d made a mistake. But it was too late

To go back. Fog swept over the mountain,

Then darkness. We were lost. Everything

 

Was silent now. The crows were a distant

Memory. Is this what they’d been trying

To tell us? My heart fluttered and gave out.

Burnt Tin (Written May 15)

Burnt Tin

 

There was a smell of burnt tin

That drifted down the beach

To where the boy, Ned,

 

Was playing with his friends

From the camp, throwing rocks

Over the water, splashing

 

One another, singing, and

Dancing. Tomorrow,

They would all be gone.

 

The grown-ups at the fire

Were burning everything

Not needed for the journey.

 

Ned did not understand

Why they had to leave.

He came every evening

 

To the beach, from his house

On the hill, and they dressed

Him like a girl, and he danced

 

Like a girl and told them

He loved them. He had

No other friends and wanted

 

No others. The smell of burnt

Tin would stay with him

As long as he lived,

 

And he would not forget

The pain of separation,

The hurt of abandonment.

Please Pick Up (Written May 14)

Please Pick Up

 

He put his dirty finger against

One number, and then the next.

Zero. Zero. One. The time difference

 

Would make it ten in the morning

Where she was. Nine. Zero. Two.

The first time he’d tried to call her

 

He got her voicemail. Don’t do this,

He’d shouted. Four. Zero. Five.

He had not spoken to her in a while,

 

And was afraid she was away

On one of her long foreign trips.

All he could do was try.

 

He remembered his father’s words.

Six. Nine. Tell her not to cry

For me. Tell her I died a happy man.

 

Three. Zero. The phone rang four times,

Then the same voicemail message ran

Its course. Where are you? Please pick up.

The Gardener (Written May 13)

The Gardener

 

He’s hoping he won’t see them,

And that they won’t see him.

He goes quickly down the stairs

 

To the basement and into the men’s

Room, where he leans in and glares

At himself in the mirror and wonders

 

What’s wrong with him. He wishes

They would just leave. The blunders

He’s already made could hardly be

 

More mortifying. He doesn’t want

To talk about it right now. He

Liked what he saw, and he didn’t like it,

 

But mostly he didn’t like it.

It’s still too fresh in his mind.

He needs a few hours, or a day,

 

To sort it all out. His so-called

Friends, based on what they say,

All take a very different view.

Sleep Now (Written May 12)

Sleep Now

 

But does it hurt? Try

Not to move. It’s better

If you can lie very still.

 

I won’t be gone long. Here,

Let’s tuck in this blanket,

So you won’t be

 

So cold. It won’t get dark

For another hour. I’ll see

If there’s someone on the trail below.

 

It’s not far. If we climbed up

Here, we can climb down, snow

Or no snow. The only thing

 

I’m worried about is your breathing.

Maybe I’ll just stay here and sing

You a song. Okay? Just relax.

 

Everything’s going to be all right.

I would never have wanted to ask

You to come along, if I’d known

 

How bad your heart was. Why

Didn’t you tell me? I could’ve shown

You an easier way. I’m so sorry.

 

And then that storm caught us

By surprise. But don’t worry,

I’ll stay with you. Sleep now.

Mother’s Day (Written May 11)

Mother’s Day

 

She also cooked lunches for local

School teachers and looked after

Neighborhood children during the day.

 

These little jobs went some way to help

With all the household bills she had to pay,

But she also had three of her own nifty

 

Children to clothe, feed, and educate.

Our father had died when he was fifty

And left her with almost nothing,

 

Except the memory of his love and

Devotion, which, luckily, was something

Stronger than the grief that almost

 

Engulfed her and made her think, at times,

Of suicide, and the lure of his ghost

As it journeyed to the next world.

 

Never once, as far as I’m aware,

Even as catastrophe swirled

Around her head, did she desire

 

Another man to be her husband

And a father for her children.

She knew what she wanted.