In (and out) of the loop

local coffee place
sipping my solitary cup
checking email

next table over
a group of men older
than I, age gap not of
grandfather-grandson
severity

the six zealously swap
tales of doctor visits with
enthusiasm once reserved
for one-night stands
summer romances

familiar names swirl
through their regaling
conversation;
Alzheimer’s, Chron’s,
Cirrhosis taking the places
of honor once held by
Mantle, Mays, Snyder

reeling off statistics like
they were twelve again
arguing conflicting treatments
with firm convictions that
their guy is absolutely
the better player

the conversation is
not foreign to me
only the proximity

mornings often find me in
front of my laptop
messaging with friends from
various stages of my life
scattered at far-flung locales
sharing their struggles
acknowledging my grudgingly
accepting empathy of
Parkinson’s, arthritis, diabetes

their statistics quoted from
doctor’s words, websites read,
support groups attended
and I thankfully, at times
guiltily have little to add

taking a final sip of coffee
I can simply log off, get up,
leave my tip on the table
or mug by my computer
thoughtfully walk away

Mark Lucker