For Sharon, On Her Birthday

We were children,
banging on the door of grown-up life
with our cars and bottles,
our pills and tabs,
floating on a sea of green
beneath a sky of goodbye blue.

What we didn’t know:
bills and mortgages
and soul sapping jobs,
miserable heartache far beyond
anything we thought we knew
about the affairs of the heart.

We were so desperate
to reach beyond our station,
without consideration to
take it easy, make it a slow ride,
enjoy the rising road as we
pushed hard into the dawn
of this grown-up life.

I remember you
as if in a dream;
the smile that blistered the eye,
your laugh that brought everyone
around you joy,
a beauty without artifice or design,
one that I knew would
be uncorrupted by time.

Here we are,
deep into the weeds of grown-up life,
struggling to make sense
of the senseless and how to have power
when we are told we are powerless.

And there you are,
your voice in my newsfeed,
ever the fighter railing against
the stupid injustices that plague us,
and you fill me with hope that
even if we lose,
we’re going to go down fighting
for what we know is right.

But oh! what I wouldn’t give
to have just a moment of time back
when we were still on the cusp
of childhood and this relentless grown-up world,
when all we cared about was
the next tank of gas and how much
homework we could skip and still
make the grade,
when your smile lit up our little corner
of the school and your laugh made
me think that somehow it was
all going to be OK.

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Heartbreaker

I thought I saw Tom
walking toward me today;
by the look on his face
I thought he had something
to say.

He walked through a door
I’m not yet allowed to see
and passed into the sea of memory.

I remember listening to
Tom and Bob on stage
at an astro-themed park
long since relegated to
exist only in my memories.

An odd pair, the kid from the
sweaty locus of Florida with
the confident guitar swagger
and the elder icon of my
father’s generation,
wheezing out his protest songs
that fueled the revolution
that wasn’t.

In a box somewhere in a closet
there is a worn out tape of
Damn the Torpedoes,
each song an anthem to an
A
merica we all wanted to be
but has been relegated to
exist only in our mental collective.

I thought I saw Tom,
walking down the street,
that crooked smile of
undeniable and
unidentifiable 
cool
flashing in the sun;

I thought I saw him,
but I was wrong…
I wish I’d been right.

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A Fairy Garden I Chanced to Find

The road spools out before me,
Between trees giving way to fall,
A bridge spans across a nameless creek,
Beneath a sky too blue to be real.

A fairy garden hidden among the flowers,
And it seems I have just missed them,
Perhaps they’ve gone into the shadows
For a spot of afternoon tea…
If only they had invited me.

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Silent

I went three days without speaking.

In the Cimitero dei Cappuccini, the desiccated lips of four thousand friars curl in laughter.

“Amateur,” wag tongues long since crumbled to dust. “You don’t know what it means to be silent.”

It’s true enough, by any measure of solitude, three days is hardly worthy of mention.

But three days in my data saturated world of media overload was more than enough…

To hear my own thoughts…

To hear the wind stir in the leaves, the chitanous whisper of insects, the bubbly chatter of unseen birds, to harken to the barking of the fox…

To listen as people talked and said nothing and nonsense…

I was silent for three days.

It wasn’t nearly long enough.

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Softball Follies

It happened in an instant, but the pain has lasted for months.

I watched as it went down, the yellow ball flung toward the plate.

Her arm reached out and caught the ball but then the collision.

She went down hard and I panicked as she has a surgically repaired knee.

I rushed in from shortstop and hovered over her: is it your knee?

No, she said. I can’t move my shoulder. Fractured in three places.

Two months later she’s in PT and doing well, mobility coming back.

Last Sunday I was at first and dove after a ball, put myself in the path of the runner and we both went down hard.

As he lay there in the dirt I was paralyzed by fear; was he hurt?

He got up and looked at me; was that necessary, he seemed to ask?

It wasn’t. But in that instant I made a choice and it wasn’t the right one.

No one wants to get injured playing a game. No one wants to be the cause.

I felt terrible the rest of the evening, and when we crossed paths at the end of each inning I couldn’t hide my shame.

I hope he’ll be okay.

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The Summer of ’76

We drove into the city at night

on a freeway lined with lights

past car dealerships hunkered down

for the evening on the edge of town.

From the back of the VW wagon

where I had a pallet of sorts

I watched this new city appear behind me

as it spooled out in the rear window.

The next morning I stepped

out and gasped to steal a breath

from air as thick and sticky as my

grandmother’s make-up in church.

A tree made for climbing dominated

one side a the vast expanse of lawn;

I clambered up the trunk and

perched on a limb, an eight year old

human bird child afraid to fly

but not so scared that I wouldn’t try.

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My Broken Electronic Companion

You were ever
so smooth;
my fingers ran across
your flawless face,
gnosis unlocked
with a gentle touch.

But time, o time,
the perfect butcher
of perfection,
went to work with
grim precision,
stress and strain
the twin tools
that crease and furrow.

In an instant
you fell to the ground,
you shattered
and fractured,
a web of destruction,
frozen lightening.

I feel the splinters
and my touch evokes
pain as you struggle
to function
beneath my fingers;
you are broken.

Using you causes
me pain and yet I
don’t abandon you—
yet.

One does not easily
discard that which
has been so useful
for so long. You will
be replaced but it
will never be the same.

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