Tag Archives: memory

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 was just trying to love you

When we were together there were nights in our bed
I listened to your breathing – shallow nearly still
Once I was sure you were breathing
Sleep could come over me peacefully
I couldn’t imagine life without you

The days that you didn’t call back fast enough
I worried that something happened
You are not a very good driver
The physical distance was difficult
You never understood my tone
You thought I was checking up on you
You thought trying to control you
I was just trying to love you

You’re gone from my life now
You buried the hatchet of finality
You did exactly what we all expected

I sleep alone now in my bed
I listen for my own breathing
Sleep comes over me peacefully
I don’t worry about your driving
I don’t wait for you to call
I don’t even think about you anymore

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 Ancient Ghost of Regret

Decades gone by like a heavy wind – we shared our lives – not always of our choosing
We traded kind words once – sometimes heavy punches – sometimes just our anger
We never stopped to explain or apologize – rarely showing gratitude – we just were
Consumed by perceptions of our own mortality and legacy we eventually drifted apart

There was one day – lost in the ether of the youth – when I killed what we loved
The ancient ghost I made that day haunts me – after all these years it still hovers over me
I had your trust and I betrayed it mercilessly until you cried – then I laughed at you
The ancient ghost of regret haunts me for not treating you better when I had the chance

More than a lifetime has transpired since that day when I made you so miserable
We have forgiven each other – unspoken apologies for pain we inflicted on each other
We have soared and we have floundered – sometimes together – sometimes alone
Still I can’t keep the ancient ghost of regret from knocking on my kitchen door at night

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 Three Years (The Silver Shoes)

We never dreamed there would ever be a time that we weren’t together
You bought me these silver shoes when the black ones just didn’t fit anymore
Soon after the day we found each other – we knew that we would be better off apart
But we were trapped by empty promises to family and friends
The biggest and the emptiest of these lies were the lies we told each other
The biggest and the emptiest of these lies were the lies we told ourselves
We hung on – foolishly – to an idea that had long run its short course
There were nothing left but easy habits and low expectations

When I knew the weight of our life together was too much – I walked away
It was just before Independence Day – weeks after we marked our third year together
At that point you didn’t love me anymore – if you ever did at all – I’ll never know
I loved the idea of you but I only stayed because I was afraid to leave you alone
That final split was breathtaking liberation for me
That final split found me bursting out of the cold dark water
That final split was my rebirth into a better saner world

I finally pulled those new silver shoes out of the box today and tried them on
They are soft and comfortable like I always hoped we’d be someday
They’ll break down and fall apart in about three years – just like we did