Ask him what he knows
of the tos and the fros,
the gives and the takes,
the misses and the makes,
and he’ll pause then tell you,
“That’s a good question.”
Ask him when he knew
the sum of two and two,
if he was yang or yin,
what was his original sin,
and he’ll smile and say,
“I’m still waitin’.”
If someone asked you one day,
could you ever think of him some way,
in earnest or just in passing
as something more than the last thing
with whom you’d want to be alone,
to talk about now, not then.
But he’s sure down to the bone,
the first thing he’d say on the phone,
before any give, take, to, or fro:
“My life’s made of misses, so
you know this smile’s vestigial
and all my sins unoriginal.
Silly little free-written musing with lopsided rhymes.
Today my friend wondered
the last time he saw your smile.
That’s a real smile, not one
of those practiced, pleasant lip curls
with a peep at pearly teeth.
He’s sure you’ve smiled plenty
since then, he just wasn’t around
to see it. And then he ordered
He can’t remember his last
real smile, relying instead
on grip-and-grin hearsay from
As far as he’s concerned,
their affirmation of his full-toothed
happy face is akin to receiving
a trophy for sitting at the end
of a CYO basketball team’s bench.
Graphic confirmation remains
as dubious as a half-moon,
full-color, “Say cheese” moment
from Sasquatch or Nessie.
Rather, most photos depict him
sporting a smirk, wearing a wince
or hanging a lopsided half-rictus
upon his face that frightens even he
who shaves its haggard crags daily.
He believes, perhaps the last time
he actually, spontaneously,
perhaps even laughingly smiled
was in honest reply to yours.
He added that chances of repeating
that would be like discovering
George Washington’s dental X-rays.
But he told me he’s willing
to start digging around
Mount Vernon whenever…you know.
And then he kinda smiled.
I was never the man
you were so sure I was
then. And you weren’t
the one I thought
I knew. You still
don’t know me, but
I probably wouldn’t
through all the ink,
like milk, spilled since
last together we flew.
So now we’re strangers
living carry-on lives,
none of that old
baggage to check.
I could say, “Hi,
I’m just a guy,
on the last leg
of a journey we
each alone trek.
I wouldn’t mind
if you’d be so kind
to be a friend like
I once thought I had.
Perhaps you’d agree
a simple You-and-I We
would be super,
not like the old bad.
I won’t expect
a super-someone then
and don’t you look
for Bruce Wayne.
we’ll have made and
our rechecked baggage
we’d be just you and me,
with no more cases of
mistaken secret identity.
Above are the Chinese characters for “reconciliation” or “to make friends again.” My old bones must feel Spring on the way to create something in this kind of mood of amity and hope. I’m sure it’ll pass with the next snow or depression blow.
I don’t recall we ever
shared a drink,
whether for celebration,
courage or no reason at all.
But then, I don’t drink
for those reasons anyway.
I’ve never found bravery
swimming in the tawny puddle
at the bottom of a glass.
Sometimes it takes more daring
not to swim at all. I tend
not to celebrate, either.
To party, roister and carouse
aren’t in my nature, though
I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t need
any occasion nor courage
to sit and talk with one another.
Just catching up,
for no reason at all,
might be intoxicating enough,
seen through the prism
of an empty glass.
You probably don’t swallow
that notion, though.
Or do you?
Could you ever stop thinking of me
that way because my arms couldn’t
reach out when you needed them most,
bound as they were by bonds I wove
of confusion and fear? If not,
I wouldn’t blame you, though that’s
a heavy load to carry for so long,
cracking backs and taxing hearts
whose clockworks wind down past
their dwindling supply of twelves.
But if you could, it’d be a blessing
in these latter days granted me,
my leaves tearing from the calendar tree
of this life spent blinded in shadow,
blown from one direction, battered
to another. Ever away from the peace
for which I pray before I fall
and lie forgotten, save for fading lines
on pulp, lost in the emptiness between
the zeros and ones I’ve cast like acorns
in a promiscuous gale of words…
sound and fury signifying I’m nothing
without friends I’ve lost in my storm.
An Irish Wake
When you lie there in the dark
in the sleep that is not yet sleep,
does the thought ever awaken
(like the pea beneath your mind’s mattress)
what it’d be like to lie in the coffin
within your casket in the not-yet-death?
Do you wonder who’ll come visit
your corporeal self as you, with
maybe one eye slyly peeking, capture
memories as the soon-to-be-tipsy mourners
contemplate, inflate and conflate
your times together, consecrate,
them perhaps with a baptism
of a tear or two?
If the don’t, I won’t judge.
My hands’ll be knotted in someone
else’s damn rosary, so I couldn’t cast
any stones, let alone the first.
But, boy, would I love to roll away
the rock they plant me beneath,
in a fourth-quarter comeback resurrection
just to confirm I saw in your hands
the letters I wrote, even the ones
I never sent, but composed in this,
my warm and waking coffin here in the dark,
here in the sleep that’s not yet sleep,
here where it feels so much like death
in my every-night not-quite-life.
Poem Number 13 of poem-a-day NaPoWriMo 2016. This one prompted by a call for a “Last (Something)”-titled poem. Yeah, I went there. Not sure if this is an egomaniacal exercise or just another potential disappointment captured in verse.
For a one-second eternity, the blue metal tube spun in the air above Lane Two between the grasping hands of Emmett Carter and Vince Bellini, and then fell to the track with a clatter.
Over in Lane Four, the third-leg and fourth-leg sprinters of Cardinal High’s 4 X 100-meter relay team fumbled their pass, as well.
But while that anchor man punched the air and screamed in anger at his teammate, Emmett scooped up his team’s baton and sprinted all-out the remaining hundred meters of the race, his favored team finishing fifth and last.
At the finish line, the third-place team’s anchor leaned over to say into the ear of a gasping Emmett Carter, “Why the hell you even bother picking that thing up and runnin’, man — you couldn’t win.”
As the three members of Emmett’s relay team and other athletes from St. Vincent’s track team ran up and began pounding him on the back and hugging him, their anchor man looked over and said, “Who says I didn’t?”
A lunchtime bit of Five Sentence Fiction based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word Anchor.