Tag Archives: angels

In Monroe, Wisconsin

For J.P.

You were the best of us
Even when we were at our best
In that big drafty room
Wearing clothes owned by other people
The love – big love – poured all over us
When you opened the door that morning
We let it wash our souls like Lake Michigan water
You were generous and brave and honest

Later you raged against injustice
You lifted the heaviest of loads
You were the best of us
Only you knew how good we could be
And you never let us forget

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I Celebrate Your Life (a sketch)

It’s summer days like these that I miss you most, Sweet Sister
When the radio seems to be playing all the right songs
When the sun warms me but doesn’t burn me
That I most often think of you and the life we had at home

Sweet Sister – we never knew what we were missing
We had our own universe there in that place that was built on love
Looking back we learned it was somewhat fractured but no less brilliant

The day when you shocked that lily white world
In your pristine white gown and over-sprayed brown hair
You laid that crown on the virgin’s metaphorical head

The night we sat at the old picnic table and drank cheap wine
We talked about nothing all night long until we heard the birds
The sun came up over my right shoulder and hurt your eyes

There were people who thought better of me than of you
Their minds were small and their vision was blurred

You became more like the old man than I was – despite what they said
You became more like the old man than I was – despite how we were raised
You became more like the old man than I was – despite how easy it was for me

Then came that box of building supplies and we built bridges not walls
You always asked for empirical – all I had to offer was anecdotal

It’s summer days like these that I miss you most, Sweet Sister

I celebrate your life
I mourn your passing
Mostly I just miss you

The Dream Factory Out on Route 158

They cleaned each blackboard in the dream factory out on Route 158
Before they began to rip down the walls that protected the dreamers
The wrecking ball released generations of struggles and triumphs
Into the cold clear Kenosha air across the Italian club on Route 158

There aren’t many children around here any more
There aren’t many children – they followed the money

There was still so much more to say but there is no place to say it
So many words and numbers and ideas and thoughts to be given breath
Now laughter and tears echo through the crumbling cement and rusted rebar

The dream factory sighs cement dust relief
Every time the wrecking ball slams into its vulnerable side

No one was here to witness the end of the dream factory
No one was here to witness the end of where it all began
For decades of curious Wisconsin children

At least someone took the time to clean the blackboards

The Bishop of State Street

The Bishop of State Street has seen more things than you and me
His hard dark eyes are barely contained in their bony sockets
Beads of sweat the size of a baby’s fist get caught in the folds of his nose
And in the deep dark dimples that crease the sides of his face
He keeps his head on a swivel because he doesn’t like surprises

The State Street crowd is changing too quickly and the old ghosts are gone
Younger – harder – faster people push by him but they don’t see him anymore
The rhythm of the change and the rhythm of the night remind him of the trains
The rhythm reminds him of the trains that brought him up here for a better life
The rhythm reminds him of beat of his mother’s heart when she held him home safe

The Old Post Office; Door County; October 2017

It was the faded wall paper that brought him back to me
It was the cheery cherry wall paper that brought me back to him
It was that first glance thought the pristine picture window of the old post office
That brought me back to the man I aspired to be
We ended up there on accident – as was our wont back then
I ended up here today by accident – as is my wont these days
I don’t know if I have lived up to what he expected of me
I do know I still have time to navigate the course and make him proud of me

In Kenosha

She has played piano here for a hundred years
Her bony fingers tripping lightly over the keys
Her clarion voice warbling songs of praise or sorrow

She is a slave to her own muscle memory these days
She says that it’s better than a slave to her practical memory

She has introduced the congregation to generations of babies
She has buried friends and loved ones and strangers
She will surely play here for another hundred years

In Pittsburgh

We’re driving southbound on Route 51 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I’m feeling nostalgic for memories of things that never actually happened
I don’t know this place – I’ve never been here before – not on this road anyway
But it is October and the world spinning by us in a Hallmark autumn color chart
It is raining – more a drizzle – and with the window down we can smell the earth
We feel welcome enveloped in this new view of this old and beautiful city
My melancholy is palpable – it hangs there in the car between us – but we press on
We’re driving southbound on Route 51 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania