Category Archives: dVerse

July 29, 1981

wedding 1981Photo credit: 80s Actual

 
For whatever reason, I seem to be on a royal streak (flush?) right now. Here’s a brief memory of events from 32 years ago. Britain in the late 70s and early 80s was pretty conflicted (think strikes and riots and punk rock, not just tea and crumpets) – and what better to point this out than a massively expensive wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral?

 
July 29, 1981

The morning of the wedding, the TV
room was abuzz with royalists. Eileen
on the settee, a cockney queen. The rest

of us stayed in the kitchen drinking tea,
making snide comments about the Prince’s
large ears and the dangers of inbreeding.

Later, I listened from my bedroom as
the bride got the groom’s name wrong. It was an
omen, although we didn’t know it then,

her unending white dress flowing down and
out the door like a slick of North Sea oil,
just one more ’80s excess to regret.

 

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Year 24: Nothing says I love you like a banjo

kermit banjopicture from GitBox Culture

 

For my beautiful wife, on our wedding anniversary. Not the most romantic of sonnets, but consider the alternatives.  This year was supposed to be a silver plate, and next year a musical instrument.  Just what we need around the house, another instrument!  Anyway, I love you dear – this one’s just for you.

 

Year 24: Nothing says I love you like a banjo

Well, they came up with an impressive list
of anniversary presents to go
alongside the traditional gifts. So
now any guy can make a decent fist
of getting her what she’ll love. You promised
to cherish her always? Then why not show
it year by year, using the plan below?
(It’s kind of goofy, but you get the gist).

First ten years: paper, cotton, leather, fruit
wood, sugar, copper, bronze, pottery, tin.
So far so good. Then things disintegrate
until she’s just got a grab-bag of loot:
sculpture, watches, cars, glasses, But then, in
year forty-six, A POEM. I can’t wait!

 

Seventeen

Seventeen

It’s a whirlwind season in my home life. Graduations, college preparation, combing through old pictures, casting off items we forget we had and certainly will never use again.  Everyone is drifting – not in a bad way.  But we are definitely coming un-stuck from each other.  There is nothing to prepare you for this kind of pulling apart.  Everything tastes bittersweet.

In the middle of all of this, I wrote a villanelle – about change, and love, and seeing the ones we love with new eyes. For my father, for Father’s Day.

 

Seventeen

Suddenly, he won’t talk to me:
He’s become a steel curtain.
It’s just the way I used to be

with my father, too, half angry,
half amused at the old cretin.
Suddenly, he won’t talk to me

about even simple things. We
are strangers more than next-of-kin.
It’s just the way I used to be –

I remember the agony
of this age – the man-trap he’s in.
Suddenly, he won’t talk to me

except on days he needs money,
and really, is that such a sin?
It’s just the way I used to be!

I don’t take it personally –
this is a game a dad can’t win.
Suddenly, he won’t talk to me –
it’s just the way I used to be.

 

Castro Camera

Castro Camera

This past week was Harvey Milk Day.  Milk was an amazing man, a flawed hero, a great gift and a significant loss.   I wrote this short piece last November in his honor.

 

Castro Camera

He was just another Lithuanian-American
Jewish boy who played football and joined the navy
a straight-laced actuary who loved the opera
and kept private matters private.
But then came San Francisco.

He said, “I finally reached the point
when I had to become involved or shut up.”

On Castro Street he flowered
turning to his neighborhood
unflinching in his call for civil rights
Ten months a Supervisor, till his
shocking death, November 27, 1978.

He said, “If a bullet should enter my brain,
let that bullet destroy every closet door.”

After the trial, the White Nights
the riots and the beatings
they laid his ashes to rest
beneath the sidewalk at 575 Castro.
He was my age, more or less.

 

Harvey Milk Day poster

 

Multiplication

chicken

In honor of tax day, and with a grateful nod to Garrison Keillor and the Writer’s Almanac

 

Multiplication

If The Writer’s Almanac is to be
believed (as if that’s even a question),
Federal Income Tax was passed into
law exactly one hundred years ago.
That would be 1913, when Congress
ratified the 16th Amendment. Back
then, the form was a measly two pages.
You could fill it out in the time it took
to skin a chicken or chop down a tree.

 

Drink Me

Coffee heart

Last night, there it was.  A heart in a coffee cup.  We just looked at it and rubbed our eyes.  For me, coffee and love have always gone together.  In Tanka form…

should you find my heart
floating in your coffee cup
stir the cream gently
and then drink every last drop
until I am part of you

Thirteen folds

Thirteen folds

Not so long ago, down at the theater, we temporarily had to take down a large American flag. The man I was working with treated this job with the utmost care. I found the whole experience strangely moving.  To share with friends over at the dVerse Poets Pub.

 

Thirteen folds

He would not permit that it touch
the ground. The Flag. Methodically,
he gave his orders, calling forth
a kind of reverence in that dusty hall.

Fold lengthwise once, twice, he said,
making sure the stars are facing out.
Then beginning at the far end from
the field of blue, take the striped corner

of the folded edge and fold a triangle
upwards to the open edge. Turn the
triangle inwards parallel to the top edge,
and make another triangle.

Keep folding triangles, carefully,
solemnly, eleven times in all,
until you reach the end and all that
shows is a perfect three-cornered hat,

a pillow of stars on a free blue sky.
We followed every instruction..
It was as if his life depended on it.
Maybe ours did too.

 

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