Literalists

“I would slay a dragon for you!”
said he from out of the blue
his lilting voice a hopeful
spontaneous, off-hand musing
had him hoping for more
as she looked up from her
paperback mystery romance

“There are no dragons”
she stated flatly, perplexed
as he quietly sighed, continued
reading yesterday’s newspaper

Oath of June

“Do you solemnly swear
to tell the truth, the whole truth
and nothing but the truth?”

“I do.”

“You may now kiss the bride.
Liar.”

Crisis averted

I watch my peers unsteadily
trampling middle age
sitting on various benchmarks
when they need to or
when they just want to watch

older, we are, most certainly
wiser is a tougher read
for those denying the
need for glasses or just
out of myopic stubbornness

when, what, why, how, where
the cryptic mysteries of
befuddled youth given way
to smug satisfaction dispensing
collected answers as flippant
Confucius-wannabes

I observe my peers gleefully
trampling middle age
cheering various barometers,
just because, with a gusto once
reserved for campus protests
thumbing their collective noses

things are much clearer
viewed in digital 20/20 hindsight
with the impish assurance
that they know a bunch of stuff
the rest of you do not

33 (For Johnny)*

Twenty-one years was not nearly enough;
we had just embarked when you left.
Thirty-three years is not nearly enough
to erase what is indelibly sketched

not a pencil caricature, a dimly recollected
photographic snapshot or grainy home movie
just you, at nineteen, before illness
rudely smudged and dog-eared the picture

you are smiling, damn it

you always smiled – warranted or not – but
really, when was it not, for us?

I cannot for the life of me conjure up images
of you at forty, thirty but especially not now

I imagine your asphalt black beard still thick,
neat, coarse…tinged gray, framing sly grin
your perpetual smile-induced squint turned
permanent as well-earned crow’s feet

‘imagine’ is all I can do

I have aged gracefully, so I’ve been told,
a goal you will never attain, a good-natured
insult I will never get to hurl your way

you left, life went on

The plans, hopes, dreams, big ideas we
discussed to death oddly survived yours
some of mine came true, differently than
we could’ve ever dreamed, but still true

the shared versions departed with you as
my road strangely and happily diverged from
plans made, starting with your leaving,
life taking me along for the journey much as
I have taken your spirit within me

The calendar now ironically tells me that
the years since you left match the numerals
you wore on your South High football jersey
the same numbers I have always worn for
company softball teams, and just because

I see you so clearly now – slashing through the
defensive line of time and memory, breaking
into the clear, smiling and always running free

*Johnny Wilkins 6/11/58 – 8/9/79

Muse bemuse

Erato

She has been a muse
nothing more and
everything less
since we met as teens

inspiration still flows
from a fleeting reminder;
hearing her name
(commonly used by others
out of parental laziness)
the searing stubbed-toe
pain of an emotional owie
only she could’ve kissed
and made better

longing springs from trying
to remember just why
pinpoint specifics of how;
pixellated memories
vaguely distinguishable
from imagination

I was never her destiny
not even on the periphery
of being a fallback option
as I don’t believe she ever
wrote a single word of me,
save long-ago-stopped-
exchanging Christmas cards

Thalia

as my muse she has become
more verb than noun
a contemplative touchstone
to a time when faux
inspired creativity passed
for honest insight

confirming my relief that
I am neither sculptor or
painter…but a simple poet
– prone to and forgiven for –
hyperbole and other creative
transgressions, writing with
suspended creative license,
failing to not yield
to the pedestrian

Adieu redux

Final good-byes rarely are

I have buried many a soul
precious to me
solemnly, sorrowfully
humorously

some with great relief
many a complete surprise

I have uttered public words of
farewell, regret, remembrance

tossed flowers, clods of earth,
remorse and thank-yous
atop bronze cocoons

said farewell never meaning or
believing it; til-we-meet-agains
with more doubt than certainty

Death is the rude party guest
who blithely interrupts then
monopolizes every conversation

the caller you never invite
again but who always shows up
anyway because there is always
one in every crowd

Smörgåsbord

There are many
different
kinds of love

puppy
brotherly
unrequited
passionate
secret
eternal
young
first
true

having oft
indulged in
at least
a smattering
of each morsel
mixing entrées
salads
desserts on
the same plate

I am woefully
unqualified
to distinguish
tasty from savory
overcooked from
underdone yucky
from delectable

still I happily
grab a fresh plate
for another pass

One line

as goes the ending
so goes the fresh beginning;
life’s merry-go-round