Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mom collected strays

My mom collected strays. People, not animals. We heard unending stories of people we’d never meet and had little interest in. She befriended the grocery store worker, the “girl” that did her hair, or the police officer who ticketed her last week. We learned to avoid being surprised at who she brought home. The kicker was at my dad’s fiftieth birthday party. I asked him about a couple by the food. “Some people your mom met who said they were lonely, so she invited them.” She had a singular life purpose, to rescue others from the loneliness that haunted her days.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I can feel it, honest

night returns
okay, that's a bit dramatic
but close

sunday was the last game
for my team
they played ‘til the end
the crowd was into it
i watched from home
wishing i was there
they won that one
but not enough along the way

playoffs start tomorrow
yankees, cardinals, red sox,
no surprise,
and some other teams will play
play hard
play as if it may never
happen again
because it might not

i will watch bits
here and there
check the web
talk it up
with the guys

but i've already moved on
already thinking of
spring beginnings
because next year
we'll still be playing
it's worth waiting for
i can feel it
i can

Thursday, November 12, 2009

That one was answered

They said that God loved me and that I should talk to him. He’d listen and care. I asked him to make my grandma better; she died. I wanted him to help my dad make more money; he got fired. I prayed for Momma to love Daddy better; they divorced. I asked for help with my schoolwork and failed two classes. I begged for friends and spent the summer alone. I cried out to understand God and how this stuff works and I waited in the unending silence. Finally, I asked to be left alone. Seems like that prayer was answered.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Tipping Point

He’d come through Ellis Island with his parents in ’05, nineteen not twenty. Family settled in Cleveland. Seven kids plus New World equaled struggles. Food, clothes, shelter. Nothing came easy. Soon a war stirred in Europe.

Not yet twenty he left home, moved west, worked a ranch in Montana before drifting on to Oregon. Soon marriage, three kids followed.

Then the Big One. Market crashed, people jumped. He always had work, a house and a car. He read the news, watched his neighbors. Folks said he cared, tried to help others. “Generous to a fault.” They’d say. “Everybody needs a little kindness.” He’d say.

Her parents left the Deep South looking for a new life. Dad was a teacher, a professor of college math. Small college, but still something to respect. Watched her older brothers move out and move on. Both into business, both successful. Her marriage was something less than she hoped for. A hard worker, but lacked the drive she desired. His accent could be socially embarrassing. Not to mention his general lack of couth.

Then it came. October ’29, people went crazy. They survived; she survived, on the edge, always afraid. “There’s no guarantee we won’t be next.” She’d say if anyone would listen.

The second war in Europe had come and gone, their sons had grown and gone. They had their routine. There was the weekly dinner, at their favorite Chinese restaurant. Same place, same conversation. Same meal, for him. He’d order Combination Number Two; sweet and sour pork, egg foo yung and chicken chow mien.

“You’re so stuck in a rut. Will you ever try something new?” She’d chide.

“I always get it because I always like it. You can get whatever you want.” He’d reply.

Their order arrived; he’d savor the familiar flavors. She’d chatter while picking at her dish. He’d nod and grunt agreement. Kept the conversation going, avoided actual involvement. They’d finish with fortune cookies. She’d read aloud, made him do the same.

He’d rise, putting on his hat, glancing one last time at the check. Did the math in his head to count out a tip, always more than expected. Placed it on the table, next to his plate, not too obvious but easy to find.

He’d start toward the door. She’d hesitate. Made sure he was focused on going and quietly scooped up most of what he’d left, slipped it silently into her purse