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Monday, February 27, 2012

Wonderful Day, Wonderfilled Life

What a wonderful day it had been.
I sat with Peter, Jayne’s husband,
lunching with Kate, Jayne’s friend,
and Aaron and his Richard,
Jayne’s son and son-in-law.
Jayne was somewhere, painting,
my Barbara, too.
An accidental meeting between us,
the non-painters on the tour,
way, way, way high up
in a small Tuscan village.
Bel canto music purred
In the outdoor speakers.
Their dishes looked like canvasses.
peasant food made fabulous
I wasn’t hungry, so I passed.
I wasn’t thirsty, either,
but I drank their wine.
We talked,
then we walked,
and talked some more,
about nothing, mostly.
Not even about Jayne.
Or Barbara.
I bought a small painting
from a small studio,
for a small number of Euros.
It hangs now in a small corner of our home,
and in a big part of my memory.
We rode down
to our Montecatini hotel
in a bright red funicular
and never once thought to
sing Volare.
What a wonderful day it had been.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The world might end
by lunchtime, so
leave this moment alone.
Let it breathe.
Grief will come in time,
in all its untidy dress,
complicated and deep,
feeling a lot like fear.
Lifelong friends may think enough
of each other
to lie once in awhile,
even as we traverse oceans and
mountains and valleys of emotion,
preparing to die,
with certainty that there’s another way
to be in the world,
even without a remedy for death.
Uncomfortable as it is,
afraid as we are,
we can only listen to our breath,
find a calm corner inside,
engage with the world as it is right now,
and live with an open heart.
Dawn breaks for me
as my friends live in twilight.
Night will come soon enough.
In the end,
our lives are simply stories, and
the world will proceed
with its plan.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Please Give

Please Give

– after Kay Ryan

If it please God,
let it be less about me
and more about them,
the ones without.

If it please God,
let my wishes go,
except the dreams of peace,
the ones with hope.

If it please God,
let my goals not matter,
but for the sharing with
the ones who need.

If it please God,
let me be smaller
but have the gifts be great,
the ones from the heart.

If it please God,
let my days run no longer
than I am useful and caring,
the ones filled with kindness.

Elm Avenue

There are no elm trees on Elm Avenue, anymore.
There used to be, back when Dale and Mary Alice
and all the rest of us were growing up,
in the so-called good old days in Okauchee, WI.

We were worried about the Russkies,
building shelters underground, stocking them
with Spam and water and some kind of hard bread,
lots of Anacin and Band-aids.
We should have been worried about the Dutch,
those tulip-growing, windmill-loving ice skaters,.
We’d blame them later for what happened to our trees.

We were worried about polio, too.
We all knew about iron lungs and braces, and
we all had a classmate or relative on crutches.
We weren’t worried when the doctor made his house call,
cigarette in his mouth.
We should have been, worried that is,
and we should have wondered why no lady doctors came around.

Our parents bought a new car every year.
They worried about losing face,
about keeping up with the neighbors.
The neighbors, of course, were all white.
We weren’t worried about what was happening with negroes.
We didn’t know any, didn’t know anything about them.
We didn’t know anything about brown and red and yellow races, as well.
That didn’t worry us either.

We all knew gay men and women.
None of us knew that we knew them.
Nothing to worry about there.
We were occupied with the things that really mattered,
like acne and masturbation and girdles and bras.
We weren’t worried about STD’s,
but owning a condom was still a big deal for boys with no clue.

We were all poor, at least against
the rich folks across the lake,
the Pabst’s and Miller’s and Johnson Cookies people,
the ones always last to pay their grocery bills.
In it together,
being poor didn’t worry us, and
we took pleasure in simple things,
like swimming and tag and the free movies
in the park on Saturday night.

Our heroes were athletes and actors,
local folks like Johnny Logan and Tony Curtis.
We didn’t worry about scandal then,
our heroes too true to make the
tarnished footprints of the future.
We might have worried about that,
propping them up,
only to knock them down,
but we didn’t.

There are no elm trees on Elm Avenue, anymore.
But, there are pine trees and firs and maples, even birches,
the ones we planted before we knew the elms would go.
We were not worried about the future when we did that.
We just put them in the ground, bought hammocks,
and waited.
Nothing to worry about.
Nothing at all.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Valentine, 2012

At 10 and 31,
we’ve only just begun.

Not really birds of a feather,
but, truly, always together.

There’s good in what we’ve been,
in our 31 and 10.

There’s great in what we’ll be,
just you wait and see.

The best is yet to come,
with you, on Planet Awesome.

There’ll be no need to worry,
not in our love story.

With you as queen, I’m king.
Next stop…everything!

What Dying Friends Think

Life is too short.
It might be too short for
a lot of things, like
worry and jealousy and regrets.
Could be.
So people say.
The ones who are not dying.
Not yet.
My friends who are dying now know.
Life is too short.

Money doesn’t matter.
It might matter if you’re short
of food and meds and rent.
Could be.
So people say.
The ones who are not dying.
Not yet.
My friends who are dying now know.
Money doesn’t matter.

Man plans, God laughs.
It might help to have a strategy,
with wills and trusts and next of kin.
Could be.
So people say.
The ones who are not dying.
Not yet.
My friends who are dying now know.
Man plans, God laughs.