Tag Archives: dad

Old Men and Birds

Old men and birds
Have the best stories here
No empty rhetoric
Words or songs pour out
Of beaks and trembling mouths
Reliving those moments of glory
Like they could bring it all back home
Whenever they needed it

Old men and birds
Get ignored around here
No honest attraction
They live within us
They who have seen so much
They know all they have is each other
Like the friend to share secrets with
At times when you need them most

Old men and birds
Die terribly here
No evident losses
Flies buzz around them
The rotting carcasses
Reclining on the dirty sidewalk
Where they fell when they got too tired
And simply needed a rest

I Weave my Hands

I weave my hands and fingers in dedication
To those already come and gone
And in anticipation of those not yet here

I openly welcome with a welcome hand
Beckoning forth as to bring all closer

I push away lightly fingertips dancing carelessly
On the ballroom floor of air
The fingers do not threaten as they rumba and tango about
But they do keep their own distance a private dance for lovers

Impassioned by speech my hands gesticulate
Like my father’s clean red hands – like my mother’s wrinkled white hands
Like a four-pound bullhead on your line on Memorial Day weekend

I weave my hands and fingers carefully – thoughtfully
each expression a work of art – each interchanging movement graceful

I put my weary head in my sturdy palm
And my palm never gives in
My palm holds strong and never abandons ship
When my palm finally begins to give in
And when I have stopped my fingers and hands from weaving
I put them to rest between my ear and my pillow
I put them to rest between my lover’s legs

Coal Dust

I am the son of the son of a coal miner
My father having escaped
the steaming bowels of West Virginia
Long before I came into this world
His father traded a lung full of coal dust
For a handful a black smeared dollar bills
So the family could buy potatoes and stay alive

Not much of a life expectancy for pet canaries
in that mining camp
Simmering slag piles offered grimy solace for the young boys
Their minds filled with thoughts of a far away war
Now the ones who made it back home are left with
Just some memories of the black stained hands
And the coal dust on the wind discoloring the laundry on the line
Just some memories of the ancient grocer in her musty shop
And the shelves stocked with sacks of flour
and sugar and jars of shiny red candy

Hollywood finally came slicing through the Blue Ridge Mountains
Nesting there to pick at the remains of the carcass
Left by box-guitar playing hobos and folk music sycophants
They strum and wail of the richness of West Virginia and its people
Unaware that the mysteries within are equally lost on them

The son of a coal minor is often touched by the effort
When he gets lost in the panoramic vista of the sweeping verses
It is almost easy to forget the miners’ life
It is almost easy to forget the slag piles
It is almost easy to forget the coal dust

His hands were dry

His hands were dry – soft but not delicate. The fingers were individually hairy but not in a way that was anything but Italian.

That old gold watch snugged up around his wrist – battered like his heart after all these years. Battered but accurate and always on time.

For as much as he smoked – his hands didn’t betray him. There were no yellow smudges or unsightly blemishes. Even his nails were perfect.

His grace was incongruous to his large frame – to his chicken legs and barrel chest. There was not an ounce of weakness in him.

Out Here. On My Own.

I picked up the phone and dialed God – but he wouldn’t accept the charges
He didn’t seem to see the necessity in the call – and why during the game
So slipped the phone back into my pocket and ordered another round
Things have changed a lot around here since the old man left
God is too busy and no one cares a lick about history or what it means
My eyes burn too much to read – even the Bellow which comforts me
The covens of lovers who keep their guard up through the night are not for me
I had words for them – ideas to share – but they can’t upset their delicate chaos
So I drift back into the world I am used to – the world out here – on my own
It is like I am on this long vacation only I am not getting any shirts or glass shells
I am getting a heavy heart and stiff neck and a new circle of friends with no history
So I picked up the phone and dialed God one more time – he accepted the charges
We laughed about this and that and the heavy-breasted girl who thought she knew me
He told me not to worry – I would surely die alone – it was out of my control – it is
You are out there – he said – on you own – and I am – yes I am

Last Night at the World Center

The tears of a thousand broken lovers rolled down my back last night
The bitter wind cut trough my sweater and into my heart cutting me low
The salty splashes froze along my spine and down into my black slacks

Now I understand Sam Cooke and his regret for leaving the church when he did
I miss hearing my father sharing the wrong stories with the right people
I miss his bony feet and his approving nod and his sweet smelling cigarettes

The distance between me and the car never changed no matter how fast I walked
Tail-lights of other cars moved soundlessly away from me getting smaller as they went
My fingers burned with love and loss and a memory of youth before it all fell down

The sun will come soon enough – like it always does
I’ll be home with my thoughts and my cat like I always am
I’ll be disconnected – not discontented – missing almost no one

Not one who expects too much of music
Not one who thinks the Marx Brothers were a band
Not one who got strangled by the past
Not one who forgot what friendship means
Not one who could make it better if things were different
Not one who forgets to notice the guy with the burning fingers

I’ll miss the old man again – like I always do on nights like this

A Sort of a Baseball Poem

I was never as good at baseball as I would have wanted to be
But I loved the gallery of faces and the litany of stories surrounding the game
I learned the clichés and the archetypes and the history without memorizing one stat

It was a threatening and brutish sky the night that I found out about Old Moose Skowron
The craggy lightning separated the sky like the creases separated his face
Somehow the boy of summer became an old man of many long winters

I read about it in a weekly while driving my bus full of young kids around the city
These kids probably didn’t go back any further than Rollie Fingers or Catfish Hunter
The thunder rolled hard and without mercy across the purple night sky

I met Moose once at his bar and was surprised at how big he was for an old man
I met Moose once and was surprised at how big he was for a baseball player
I met Moose once and he was all that was good about baseball in the old days

My father was a left-handed pitcher in a league that favored right-handers
Sometimes I feel like I am a left-handed man in a world full of right-handed people
The sky is quiet now – Moose and my father are in the same place
And I am ripping open sunflower seeds and thinking about tomorrow’s game