Monthly Archives: July 2010

First night

The production of Oklahoma!
Was a smash hit drawing
Five hundred eager spectators to the
Outdoor stage on the Civic Plaza
A cast of local residents having worked
Six months to mount the show were
Gratified that the threatened thunder storms
Held off until long after the final applause had
Echoed from the drug store wall.
Audience members sweltered happily
For three hours consuming large quantities
Of succulent barbeque and anonymous white wine
The girls on stage meanwhile twirled in homespun pinafores
Clacking character shoes on rough wood
While veering to avoid the old man
Gamely supporting the wall of Jud’s smokehouse
Flapping in the stiffening breeze.
There were no injuries and no emergencies
Only periodic sirens from the shiny fire trucks
High steppin’ from the central station
Brightly fringed surreys with their
Sidelights blinking in the Indiana night.

Over-zealous

Our freezer stopped working
Because it iced itself over
The toaster expired
When it burned itself out
My bicycle crashed
When it outran its brakes
And the superglue failed us
Because the lid got stuck closed.

How often I wonder
Are we brought low
By doing the things
We are good at
Just a little too well?

After the rain

The deluge descended
Cascading rivers
Over eaves occluded
By benign neglect
And bowed by
Shifting circumstance
I stood cold-shocked
And breathless
On a metal step
T-shirt plastered red
Against an aching chest
And laughing
Laughing
Laughing
For I knew this was
A baptism
And the cleansing
Of a half-clogged heart.

Chiaroscuro

Early morning
Our room inhales
In black and white
The pale sun
Apologetic
Pushing through
The zigzag
Of last night’s
Passion.
My fingers trace
Your charcoal lines
Gently watching
Light and shade
Glide through curves
I tuck the sheet around you
And think Yes
For this I became
A painter.

One hundred forty-four

These days most often
My right front pocket bulges
With a yellow tape named Stanley
One hundred-forty-four steel inches
Of retractable exactitude
Groaning in muted protest
As I strain the mainspring
Over and again
Taking careful measure of my life
Of our life

One hundred forty-four
A holy number to be sure
A witness to perfection
And to mystery.
But my life does not add up
To such exalted sums
Does anyone’s?
I am forever tripping over random extras
Fractions, decimals
Joyful and inconvenient
Too much, or too little.

In this home, for instance
The closet doors
Now sprung open
Will not close
The aperture is far too large
And it looks…
Odd, or even funny.

I sigh,
And yet I love this
Cockeyed geometry
With all its gaps and angles
The numbers which defy convention
The swollen joints
The openings pushed wide
Our misbehaving picket fence
For in these imperfections
One hundred forty-four or more
There is the solace of integrity
And the measure of our shared humanity.

Love songs

If we waited twenty years
To write our love songs
They would sound less like a
Sun-soaked romance novel
Where passion and attraction are
Immutable, eternal and
Just downright obvious.
And more like the report of a
Castaway on some desert island –
Long days of hoping
Interspersed with seasons of
Ripe coconuts
And occasional tropical storms
Above all with the gradual
Settling to a task from which
In the end one does not
Wish to be rescued.
Some few escape the island
And rightly so – for they are in
Mortal peril. But so many others
Exchange the rigors of one location
For a place not so different
A short journey or a dozen oceans distant.
You don’t sing about these things.
You simply live
And let the young ones have their dreams.

The most important day of your life

What kind of idiot
I ask myself
Would plan a wedding
For the afternoon of the
Blooming World Cup Final
The most important day
Of the year, hell of my
Entire life, if our boys
Should pull it off
Only a completely clueless
selfish self-centred
gold-digging
present-grabbing
fashion-obsessed
buxom curvaceous
traffic-accident-causing
drop-dead gorgeous
bombshell
that my
lovestruck best friend
Is so completely smitten with
That he can’t even bring
Himself to make her
see reason
That kind of an idiot
That’s who.
And so here I am
Standing at the altar
Next to my oldest male companion
Dressed in morning grey
While inwardly I curse
The bonds of friendship
That are causing me to
Commit this travesty of
Disloyalty to our nation
I mean, look out there
How many men are even here?
Only the wimps
Or the unlucky
Or the clueless
The smart ones at least had the good grace
To get mysterious sudden illnesses
Or simply to tell their better half
The honest truth – that yes
In the end some things are
More important than human love
And that while the average marriage
May only last for a handful of years
A world cup victory is forever
After all, 1966 is a LONG time ago
We’re tired of living on other people’s
legacy – it’s time for our own generation
To grab the memories with which to bore
Our own offspring for the coming fifty years
In any case, I am not a victim
I have a plan
And so I surreptitiously place the tiny
speaker in my ear and
Turn the volume on
Now, with my body still in place
I smile, while focusing all my deeper attentions
On the action half a world away.
The music swells
The national anthem. No the wedding march.
The congregation rises.
I do so too, with tears in my eyes
As the teams shake hands
And exchange tokens of respect
Here comes the bride
And God save the Queen
In my delirium I whisper
God save the bride
My friend the groom glares
And I smile apologetically
About to begin, I tell him
The elderly vicar raises his hands
In blessing, and we’re off
A cautious start
Lusty singing from the crowd
A fair amount of action in the middle
Punctuated by a long lecture
From the man in charge
Increasingly I am caught
In a strange amalgam of
Sport and marriage until I can
No longer keep them separate
The match is reaching fever pitch
The end of extra time
The two sides facing each other
Intently – having played their lives
To this moment of finality
The dreaded penalties
So often our Waterloo
our total undoing
And now again today
Oh why?!
Everyone huddled in the center circle
I wish to assume a fetal position
Yet valiantly hold my upright stance
Twitching imperceptibly beneath my cummerbund
The only way out is the vows
Each one standing alone and staring
At their respective goal
My ears are buzzing with
Long horns and obscene chants
But now all falls silent
My friend stands alone
Magnificent, assured
The whistle blows
Do you…
Can you…
Across the room I see
Fifty misty-eyed men
Transfixed – each with one hand
To his ear
The tension is unbearable
Will he…
Will he…
Our hero takes one step forward
And calmly delivers
He does!!!!!!
He does!!!!!!
He doooooooooeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssssss!
My ears are on fire
And as one there is a
Roar of acclamation throughout
The room as all the men
And many of the women
Leap and cheer
With untold fervor and abandon
Weeping uncontrollably
The bride and groom embrace
And lead the enraptured congregation
Down the aisle
And into the reception beyond
Wildly celebrating this
Once-in-a-lifetime event
It will surely be a long time
Before any of us sleep tonight
On a whim at the door
I stop and turn
Just in time to see the
Mild-mannered man of the cloth
pull a small device
From his own ear
He smiles and says
It wasn’t this easy
Back in ‘66

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