It Goes Like This

My fingers hurt when I
tried to play my guitar,
all of us now turned
unpracticed and old.
While the six-string sounds
better than ever with its
seasoned spruce body,
my seasoned body  in motion
sounds of castanets.
Oh to be as springy again
as my Larrivée when I
pulled it new from its box
twenty years ago, seeking
to regain something I’d lost
from twenty years before that.
For a few seconds today
my stiff old hands forgot
how to form a D minor chord.
I’d blame them, but they
were only following orders
from a brain whose strings
had gone dull and slack
a few years ago, too.
So I sat down to write this,
hoping to bring them back
into tune, at least for
a little while. My head
now hurts after I try playing
with words. But, as with
my guitar, who’s really
listening but me anyway?

Funny how calluses form on my fingers from using them too much, yet grew on my brain from not using it enough. 

Too Short a Fall on the Way to Winter

 

Its number of days matches other ones,
but Fall seems shorter than brother seasons.
Though the calendar gives it ninety suns,
to me it feels like less for some reasons.

Maybe it’s because the days grow shorter
and I know what’s coming makes me shiver.
So Autumn feels briefer than a quarter
of year running like a my life’s river.

That shivering’s not just about the cold
that Winter’s bringing to us all too soon.
I think it’s because now I’m getting old,
my own calendar page turned long past June.

So that’s why I fight each new page’s fall,
one leaf nearer to the end of it all.

The Ecstasy of the Agony

It’s not something I’ve found
very often, or even stumbled upon,
like if I was rummaging for
a lost golf ball in the trees.
My swings don’t bring much bliss,
and I don’t mean golf swings.
We’re speaking in metaphors here.
Bliss, euphoria and the rest
of their cousins gathered under
Roget’s roof never searched for,
let alone found me, either.
But I think I discovered something
equating to that joyously mystical
eruption of transcendence when
I harrow out the right words to tell you
how we feel, no matter my mood.
And that, my friend, might be ecstasy.

Quick one written from Robert Lee Brewer’s request for an ecstasy poem. I think other writers might experience this same feeling, or maybe kid themselves as I probably do, that we actually feel such joy in the creative strip mining of our souls.

With Apologies to Lizzie Bennett, et al.

It is a truth universally known
that a young single man in possession
of a good fortune, maybe even his own,
must be in want of women’s affection.

And I know I’ve stolen the first sentence
of that famous writer, Miss Austen, Jane.
To steal and twist it I make repentance,
but to grab notice with less is insane.

Here’s the drop, of which I’m guilty as sin,
mansplaining what smart Liz always saw.
How women’s statements get ignored by men
whose pride and privilege feel like law.

Thirteen lines I’ve gone on, regrets I send.
Just like a man, said nothing in the end.

Numb

Sometimes I forget what it’s like
to feel your warmth on my skin.
Or even through my clothes.
Closeness is not my strong suit.
I can’t even get close to
my own feelings for anyone,
let alone feeling yours.
I am numb to so much.
But then, I understand why
you would choose to keep
your distance from me.
How can anyone wish to be close
to someone who cannot feel
what they wish to share?
So that leaves me all alone
again, numb yet somehow
accepting of something
I probably never felt anyway.
But then why does it hurt so?

Silent, These Bouquets

When first we met, I thought you were so young,
hands smooth and eyes bright as shining star jewels.
And I’m sure no old poet’s words I sung
to you since back then I lacked any tools.
Dumbstruck, I could but only nod “Hello,”
or I could not express my true feeling,
in a heart that’d whisper, not bellow.
Even today I find my head reeling.
Voicing what my heart longed to say back when
ev’ry fiber of me still wants to shout.
Nowadays I take in hand this hack’s pen,
so on paper I try digging words out.
And still I sit silently hours and hours,
yearning to grow you poems like flowers.

My brilliant poet/teacher friend Bethany Pope encouraged me to try writing a double acrostic sonnet this morning. But I thought I should crawl before I ran. So I scribbled this single acrostic sonnet, a poem of fourteen lines in iambic pentameter (I think) with a rhyming scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. The tricky part is making the first letter of each one, read top to bottom, spell out something that relates to the theme of the poem. (Again, I guess.) So here’s my very first try, with an old message. 

The Lights Went Out

The power blew this morning.
The washing machine, the television,
the internet router, everything
went poof and their little lights
went out as if they lived behind
the closed refrigerator door.

This did not bother me so much,
for my power blew months ago,
so much light already snuffed
in my life when the door
between you and me slammed.
Barely a momentary crack
has it opened since.

They say eventually your eyes
get accustomed to the dark,
but only if you keep them open.
I’ll keep mine closed until
I know you’ll be there
when I open them again.

Keep It Under Your Hat

I just placed my fingertips on the upper part of the back of my head and instead of the old lustrous black hair, which long ago turned steely, then silver, I felt that patch of soft skin again. I can pat it and it sounds like polite applause. 

There really was no escaping it, I guess. What started out as a postage stamp sized bit of “ground under repair” in golf parlance, is now the size of, oh, an old CD-ROM. Yeah, it’s now a sand trap. 

But that’s really the only calamity or four that can specifically affect men when they hit a certain age. I hit it long ago. For some, it’s a genetic thing. Dad and/or Grandpa was a chrome dome, so it often follows that you will be one, too. 

For others, it’s kismet, dumb luck. Their locks seem to hold on just fine, until one winter they pull off their wool hat and, fully charged by static cling, their hair stands up like a cane patch, something resembling the head of an old dolly. They’ll notice and pat it down, but then it looks flat and perforated like an old doily. 

It’s enough to give some men heartburn, but more than likely, any burn they’ll experience will be the red embarrassment that now extends up their cheeks to the visible areas beneath those fronds of once-was hirsute glory. 

I can attest that you’ll never see me with a hairpiece, though. I like to think I’m not vain enough.  Not after I recall all my so-equipped acquaintances and experiences I’ve noted with them. 

Also, you’ve really got to take care of them. A lot. They’re not something you just put on and forget about — like a replacement windshield wiper — until they start getting all schmutzy and unsightly. Heck, half the guys I knew with toupees looked like they’d found some roadkill and lifted it from the pavement with a spatula. Et voila, baldness conquered.  Um, no…

I remember going out with an old secretly (yeah, right) sports editor of mine, who got too deep into his cups and fell over the velvet rope at the laughingly defined “gentleman’s club” he dragged us to. While he’s draped over the rope, his hairpiece went flying and I was charged with picking it up and placing it back on his head, holding it there with my red scarf, like he had a head wound. We hustled him out of there and back to his apartment. 

I don’t wish to add insult to ego injury on the poor old guy, but upon getting to my own place, I felt like washing my hands with kerosene and drying them with a blowtorch.  

The next day, while we young reporters were frittering away at our usual humdrum, the sports guy sat at his desk typing away as usual, but on radio silence. As were we, never to mention it in his earshot again.

And what about, should my skin quotient exceed my hair quotient? What of hair replacement surgery? No thanks. I’m old and retired, so there’s not a lot of discretionary income, nor Medicare, that’ll pay for such frivolities. I’ll just own this badge of masculinity like Dad and Grandpa, a trophy that I made it this far. You know, stoically. 

Oh, this golf hat? I’ve never shown you my assortment of fitted ones? Oh yeah, I’ve got maybe fifteen. I’m kind of a collector since about ten years ago.

A little writer’s block exercise I needed today. It’s based on a word salad prompt containing all the following words: a red scarf, windshield wiper, chrome, doily, blowtorch, spatula, CD-ROM, postage stamp, frittering, static cling, radio silence, kismet, calamity, heartburn, and bandage. I think I hit them all. And I hope I made a nice diversion for you as I diverted myself from a deeper depression. Not writing is bad medicine for me.