Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thanks for waiting

Dear mom and dad,
Thanks for waiting
Until I was “grown”
To get divorced

Not that it was easy
To watch my family implode
Like some distant star
Spiraling toward the horizon
And its inevitable demise

I’m thankful I avoided the carnage
Of being stretched to despair
So you could move on and do
What was “best” for you

No shuttling between houses
Yet never being home
On a schedule that
Few adults could manage
Or better yet, endure

No wondering if gifts were
Given in love
Or as rival acts of one-upmanship

No pretending not to hear the
Whispered warfare
Or the insinuations from the
Unseen member of a phone conversation

I’m so grateful I avoided the
Innumerable counseling sessions
To explore my feelings
While ultimately being manipulated
To believe
That things are better “this way”

I can’t say I’m happy
About the way our family
Turned out, but
Thanks for waiting

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It’s about over

Once you turn in your office keys
You know it’s about over
That once distant end
Is now your reality
No more empty meetings
That drag ‘til dawn
Or emergency interactions
Where you know just
What to say
And someone is so thankful
That you said it
No more being the first to arrive
To get a jump on the day
No more knowing where you were supposed to be
When you’re supposed to be there
And what you were supposed to do

Soon they’ll want the house keys
Say it will free you up
To move to that smaller place
Not so much to take care of
Your back needs a break
You can travel more
Enjoy the life of leisure
But you know it’s a short step
To what’s next

It’s the car
Not even the impractical one
That you dreamed of
A quick little number
Maybe a red convertible
If that’s not too cliché
The sensible vehicle
Is too much even
Freedom and mobility
Demand quick reflexes
A sharp mind
You’ll have neither
By this time
But you’ll be sharp enough to
Know what’s happening

And before long
You’ll wake up,
If you’re lucky enough
To wake up,
And realize you have
No responsibilities
Or pressures
People will be there
To care for you
And you’ll never again
Need any keys

Friday, August 14, 2009

Concrete patches

Manifest Destiny ended
On the trail of Lewis and Clark
We settled near the shores
Of the Pacific
After the second Big One
We moved to subdivisions and tract homes
With ordered, efficient expectations
Porches became small concrete patches
Big enough for two or three JWs
To argue theology from
Until we shut the door in their faces

Porches lost their draw out West
There were no sweltering nights,
No fireflies to capture the eye
Or gleeful children giving chase
Few neighbors stroll the sidewalks
Rarely did generations gather

Backyards became the Thing
A framework of fences to keep others out
While guaranteeing privacy within
Patios, barbecues, decks, pools, ponds,
Gardens, hot tubs, and outdoor furniture
If we hadn’t done away with outhouses
One could have lived for months back there
At least until the weather turned

The shift complete, we settled in
Comfortable, safe, secluded
Until Television drew us near
To huddle by the hum and glow
Of the box in singular focus

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sanctuary of nothing

In the days before
Open schedules and buildings
It was like stepping into
A sanctuary of nothing
Silence that echoed
If you were still and listened hard

Straight lines of symmetry
So long that you might not
See end to end
Never enough light anyway
Lockers like soldiers at strict attention
Shoulder to shoulder
Daring anyone to try
And advance through ranks
Their formation occasionally interrupted
By a door flung wide

If you were careful,
A significant challenge for a teenage boy,
You could run or wander casually,
Until an adult
Would round the corner
Or open a door
Ask to see your pass and
Send you off
Reminding you of
Your mission and destination
Yet, soon as they were gone
You’d breath deep
And move again at your pace
Freedom resumed

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

There’s not much to say about our living room

We are family room people
Everybody knows to come in
Through the back door
Except strangers, peddlers, campaigning politicians,
First timers and shoe-string relatives
Our family room pulses, with no dividing line into the kitchen
Thanksgiving is the best, our annual celebration
Our gathering, our Holy time

Our living room looks east, toward the mountain
It is quiet and usually empty
At times, mostly in the winter I go there
To read, waiting for the fire’s warmth to
Touch me from across the room
Two, maybe three, may gather there
To get away from the crowd, the noise
For serious, or private conversation

My great-grandfathers desk sits
Between the window and fireplace
It’s been refinished and is missing the
Fold-down writing surface
I think of him resting his head
On his open Bible, the one I have,
Preparing a sermon for the small congregation
Of Methodist farmers, who would certainly,
Faithfully be at church each Sunday
After tending to animals and chores
Because that is what people did

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I tried really hard

I’ve never met L. L. Barkat, and I tried really hard
We were both at “Jubilee”, Pittsburgh in February
Sam told me about her, said I should meet her

As we talked he spotted her, and pointed her out
Across the room, by Byron’s books
In an animated conversation with Lauren Winner
Who I have met, a time or two
At conferences and classes
But she wouldn’t remember me, or have reason to
I watched them, two “real” writers
With books and all, probably agents
Huddled, protecting each other,
Peers in a sea of hopefuls

I walked closer, thinking of how to
Introduce myself without sounding like
A smooth faced schoolboy grasping at
Pick-up lines
I waited for an opportunity
For their conversation to end
A time to introduce myself

I would not interrupt, I’m not that type
I feigned looking at books
While circling the table and waited some more
It seemed they talked a long, long time
Yet, I was determined and waited some more

I may have begun to look at Byron’s books
Maybe even thought of buying something
But then I’d have had to carry it home
Or maybe I met someone that I actually knew
Or got caught in the crowd push
As another session started

Soon the conference was over
I’d flown home
And I’d never met L. L. Barkat