After Everyone is Gone

Fireflies of memory
flash
in the darkened rooms,
greet my silent passage
with light from unexpected angles.

The past made new
each moment,
a startling shock
of the familiar—
which also grounds me.

Another green ghost rises,
illuminates my face
and disappears
into a darkness
greater than before

while I navigate
the old familiar rooms.

From the Grave

Countless days
we walk together
in the gray half-light
to both ignore and reclaim time.

Sometimes it is dusk,
sometimes dawn,
and I can only tell
the hour
by whether I find you
young and beautiful
or frail and fading,

yet I am always
what I’ve become:
time weary and distant
from any touch.

It it an illusion,
a trick of the mind,
that calls you here
and more and more
I see only
your youthful gaze.

I fall further
into a sepia toned past
where I dream
all was safe

before the fire and falling
before the hard exile
before time separated me
from everything.

Shortwave

I return after decades
to find all changed.

The clear voices, heard with ease,
are no longer Duetsche Welle,
Radio Australia or the Beeb.
Rather, an endless panoply of hellfire hawkers
declaim heaven and despoil wallets.

Radio Havana repeats
and repeats down the dial,
a liberal sprinkling
of sedate monologuists
between Bible thumpers –
piquant contrast.

Well past midnight
I tune in again,
seek out the rare signal
fading back
then whistling in on its wave:
Fiji, Singapore, Cameroon,
a voice raised
in quavering Middle Eastern song.

The old wonder returns
at words and worlds so distant
carried to this shore
across
a tossing ocean of air.

Push Mower

A bright summer day,
I walk behind
the familiar roar
which turns

the dangerous blade,
which cuts its straight swirl
through row upon row
of inoffensive blades.

If I gaze at the green grass,
mesmerized by progress,
it could be any sunny day
of any year since my twelfth.

Grandfather James sits
under a shade tree,
observes traffic on the road,
monitors my progress.

Vincent tastes
cool well water, then returns
the porcelain cup
to its nail.

David hikes
into the east woods,
rifle at the ready
for rabbits in the underbrush.

Eternally unchanged,
they act out their lives
from the corner
of my eye

as I march forward
set on my task
of mowing down
what lies ahead.

Driving it Home

Alone, driving down a country road
close to what was home, I hear my mother’s voice.
I see her hand point to each farmhouse and lane.

She tells me who lived where when she was a girl.
But all I hear are general tones,
because the words have gone.

Farm fields stretch on like urban blight inner city blocks
strained to their breaking. Two miles to the next corner.
Right, then five miles more. Turn upon turn of absence.
The bleached white bones of loss lie scattered, unclaimed.

The car rattles up its lane to the familiar cedar shingled frame.
Park inside the old shed, it’s soul wrapped in metal.
Dad drove every nail. The barn, the shop
all in dust and disarray of the last days
which lasted for years.

I walk in the house, set the keys on the table.
No need to say I’m home for the ghosts all know,
glide around in whispers.

Open the fridge, pour a glass of milk.
Ten leftover containers seethe with curdled discontent.
Shut the door.

Sit for hours
and watch the faces on the walls
drift back deeper.

Genealogy Visit

After an offer of coffee or tea
from this elderly cousin,
her rooms festooned
with knick knacks and doilies

she shifts position.
Her eyes well.

She confides dark stories,
Infidelities, drunkenness, violence,
the fear of leaving a brute.

I have no place to file
the flailing fists,
the ever watchful eye,
the countless repetitions
of a broken vow.

Drawn into her world,
trailing
long hours of conversation,
notebook forgotten.

She repeats
three times
“I hated him.”

===
For @dVersePoets Open Link Night.

no hold left

fall
each day
through clouded rooms
not of fire or hashish
but dulled to memory
nothing as it once was
the furniture all wrong
the people gone
saying hello
as I pass
to the walls
which remain
blank white
yet dinged
by creeping time

float
each night
beyond pale stars
and the rising orange moon
to vast realms
of permanence

punctured
by one sharp streak
across the sky
fading
and gone

I tumble

====
For Open Link Night #111 at dVerse Poets Pub (was torn between this poem and the previous one for Open Link Night)

Imprisoned Days

We stand the days in rows
of numbered cells
and make them
state their names.

At their feet
we scrawl our plans,
as if we put them
in their mouths.

Doctor Appt. 4 pm
may in truth
be Flat Tire 3:47.

The past says little more.

Last Tuesday’s
high temperature of 37
I wrote
and remembered.

The lunch menu
and office conversation
I did not
and forgot.

When we look away
the days leave their cells
and run wild.
===
.
For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub

Accordion


.
It was wooden with a worn, red finish, the bellows bright blue. There were no ivory keys, just shining brass buttons. The sound  carried a hundred thousand yesterdays in two minute installments. Carnival bright one moment, hauntingly sad the next. Standards from a hundred years before.

I remember a night when I looked into the framed blackness of the window while I listened. And I knew the music would end.

The accordion player told me a dream where his long-dead childhood sweetheart waved a handkerchief to him from a second story window, then another dream where he walked into church, down the center aisle, and sat next to his father. I was Joseph and he was Pharaoh, but Pharaoh already knew. He was 95 and I was 24.

My loss is no different from your loss. Bridges disappear and there is only the river, with currents and eddies too wild for one to swim and ever return.

At dusk, sometimes, wisps of music carry from the other side.

===

.

Here is some of his music. You may no doubt find it Myron Floren kitsch, but for me it is tinged with fond memories.  I don’t know the name of the first one anymore, and am hoping someone might recognize it.

Amos Music 1

And I’ve just discovered Tumblr only allows one audio upload a day. Grrr. More to come.