Silver Thread

Sometimes I think I can see
each silver thread that surely
salts the darkness of your hair.
I surrendered to the silver
years ago. You touched it
with surprise and maybe wonder,
but never did see the value in it.
I’ve come to see that these threads
of silver as illuminating
the tapestry of our times here,
the life, loves, triumphs
and failures we have brought
upon ourselves and others.
And endured.
I’ve the most treasure
stitched into my time-worn arras
concealing the truth of
our history. While I never
touched your silver threads,
I probably gave some to you
anyway.

After spending five days on the road to and from North Carolina, to enjoy the opportunity to play with my littlest granddaughter, I have a lot of poems to make up for the Poem A Day Challenge. So here’s the belated Day #19 poem based on the prompt of using the title (My Choice) Thread. I wrote it immediately after crawling out of bed after making that 700-mile drive home last night. So bear with me if it’s as wonky as a road-weary rambler can ramble.

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Grandpa’s Favorite

It’s not that I was the tallest.
Not by a long shot.
Nor the best looking or cutest.
Well, maybe at age 2. Smartest?
Who knew back then?
But I always got the impression
I was my grandfather’s favorite.
Now, I don’t admit this with any
overweening pride. My pride lies
scattered and broken somewhere
in the basement or in my closet.
Years ago, I dropped it and
lots of people stepped on it.

But I can tell you the old man
would lift me into his dump truck
and let me fire up the engine.
He’d give only me nickels
to scratch his bald head while
he dropped off for a nap.
He called me Angelo and
I’ve never quite figured out why,
since I bear the same name he did.
But then, he christened all my cousins
with individual nicknames, too.
Hmmm…

Now I have two granddaughters
and I could never say one’s
my favorite, since they’re
so wonderfully different.
Their three-plus-year age gap looks
so vast when the oldest is barely four.
But here’s what I hope happens
when I’m finally hanging out
with that old man again in
the Valhalla of Hesches:
I want each of my granddaughters
to believe she was my favorite…
because she would be right.

On Day #16 of the PAD Challenge, the prompt was for a “favorite” poem. Which is hard because I don’t have a favorite much of anything. So I just sat at the keyboard and started typing. I often forget the free write is my friend. So here’s the “favorite poem,” which has what someday might be three of my favorite lines concluding it.

Insider’s Report

It appears I’ve reached the semi-advanced age
where I see Doctor X, Y or Z
more often than a few years ago we’d engage.
After most of these visits they now send me off
with a prescription order for some test
or other about which I used to scoff.

Now it’s vein-skewering needle jabs
to check levels in my blood of this or that
when it got tested and sent back from the labs.
I pose now for X-rays and scans in the dark to check
if my hips and spine too will crumble
like sidewalk chalk I have in the bones of my neck.

I’ve had every-five-years visits to my posterior
where they’d periscope to see if I’ve grown
a garden of tumors in its sunless interior
All of these tests have given me twinges,
I’ll admit, but I took most in good humor
even the ones with three-inch syringes.

Recent reports showed osteo-something, glauco-the-other,
and a maybe the next will connect me
to one of the things that took my Father or Mother.
So now waiting for these reports to give me the news
has become the uncomfortable part,(calm down, old heart)
of my too-often doctor visits, win or lose.

For Day #14 of the Poem-A-Day Challenge during National Poetry Month, we were asked to write a “report” poem. I dunno, this is what came to my old and enfeebled mind.

The Strongest of My Senses

It never registered, back when
I stood in the middle of the world,
and absorbed it in every detail.
I’m sure I saw Grandma
and some old nuns lose contact
with what occurred around them
or even right in front of them.
But now I view the world through
the foggy mail slot of glaucoma.
The sounds of birds, the wind,
the waves and your voice are muffled
by the pillows of hearing loss.
In don’t feel these lettered keys
with a few of my fingertips ever since
that disc in my neck blew out in ’90.
My diet restrictions dole out
flavors as if boiled cardboard boxes
are the last of the world’s diet.
Allergic rhinitis can close my nose
like a kink in a garden hose.
I only list these things because
I can see you smiling at me,
hear your voice and our music
as if we’re again sitting together
in the dark, smell your perfume,
feel your cheek and taste your kiss.
My sense of imagination shines brighter,
rings louder, feels warmer,
smells lovelier and tastes sweeter
than anything I can remember,
if I’m even remembering these things
in the first place. What’s that?
Another kiss?
Sure.

Day #7 of April PAD 2018 calls for a senses poem. My once super senses have been dulled considerably by disease, age and lack of care. That’ll teach teen (and older) me to blast Led Zeppelin, Seeger, and Waylon through my headphones at jet engine decibels. But even with these losses, I’ve been gifted with another sense that will have to carry me through to my next life, my next chance rapaciously consume the world’s every sight, sound, touch, aroma and taste. Though you’re looking particularly nice today from this seat.

Case of the Forgotten Words and Remembered Faces

The mystery is why
I keep thinking of them,
remembering instances
of one on one
from years on years ago,
when I can’t recall
what I ate for breakfast.
I remember freckles,
blue eyes with gold speckles,
sweat droplets clinging
to an upper lip, or not,
the smell, the texture,
the taste of their skin,
each of the names of
the ones that changed me,
and which one would call me
Joe, Joseph, Joey or
even by my whole name.

But I can sit here and
reach into my head to toss
its books and papers all over
for ten minutes just trying
in vain to find one simple word.
Maybe something like
“cardinal” or “radiator”
or “duvet” (I’m sure one
of them had a white duvet
with a blue paisley design)
that should to be as close
to my virtual hand
as backspace or DELETE
ought to be at this moment.
But I see I’m finished now
and can forget all this
emotional ephemera
until some other day.
But I can’t. And for that,
I must remember to be grateful.

Day 4’s effort for PAD April ’18. This one required taking the word “Case” and using it in the title, like “Case (something or other)” and then writing a poem based on it. And that’s what I just did. I wrote a something or other.

Something About Hope, Time and Brown Eyes

I keep this picture of myself,
from sometime during the 70’s,
a smiling kid, brown eyes
gleaming with hope, black hair
covering my ears and shoulders.
In it, I am a young man of my time
and my time was Now.

The other day I was shown
another head shot of a guy
I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.
His was hair thin and silver,
some growing ON his ears or
fallen upon his shoulders.
He appeared a man old
before his time,
which he prays isn’t now.

Through the bottom of my bifocals
I peered into the dark caves
beneath his patchy gray brows.
There I saw something like
a glimmer in his brown eyes
and I recognized it as Hope,
which knows not Time.
And was thankful Time
can never dim true Hope.

My catch-up poem for Day 2 of the PAD Challenge, which was prompted by the word portrait. Any resemblance to actual old poets, living or dead, is purely coincidental…and poor editing.

What Is It We See When We Don’t Want to Look?

As I wander from my right ear
to left, the sounds sometimes
ring clear as a trumpet’s blare.
But sometimes, the sights
along the way don’t
stand so sharply defined.
I guess that’s okay, though,
if you consider yourself an
Impressionist with a notebook.
Yep, that sky’s full of swirling stars
and that’s the sunset on the Seine…
to my squinted mind’s eye, at least.
Memories give me the most problems,
though, how they appear so palpably
at the corner of my eye,
yet transparent right in front of me.
Perhaps life would be better
if I got out of my head and
directed all of my attention
into your world. But, while
my mind is full of whats
and whos and maybes, yours
looks like it might be full
of too much this or that,
him or her, definitely or clearly.
Perhaps that’s just what I think
I see when I focus, instead of
admiring you through the half-veiled
lids of my feelings, and perhaps
you’re as befogged inside as I am.
Humor me, and squinch your eyes
and describe the man you see
this last time before I fade away.
And then lie to me
just once more.