Tag Archives: old

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

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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

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

1974: Revisited

On the crowded bus in the inky darkness
On the wings of a child’s naïve utterance
You get dropped back into 1974
A chubby kid in a tattered parka
Crunching through the new fallen snow
Your footprints tell the story from the back door
Through all of the yards ending at the railroad tracks
No one else from your neighborhood walks in this weather
You clutch your brown paper Jewel gym bag in your frozen fingers

Your basketball shorts are hand me downs
They were once your mother’s dance shorts
No one will ever know – that is your prayer anyway
The kids are more distracted by your cracked cardboard shoes
The school shoes pinch your feet and scuff the floor

The low-slung building overflows with familiar sounds
New gym shoes squeak on the highly polished floor
Bouncing balls beat uneven rhythm in their own time
Chuck Taylor rules the day – that big blue star glares at you
That big blue star threatens to remind you who you are
And the steamy locker room offers no solace – no comfort

You are not one of them – not in 1974 and not now
You are not one of them – not in this bus and not in this world

The siren piercing the night drags you back to 79th and Vincennes
Your little house on the quiet street is a hand me down
It was once your mother’s home
They all know – they all know

You finally get close to figuring out who you are now
You are you mother’s son and this is where you belong

Slippers in the Snow

She wears slippers in the snow
Her ankles are raw and red and angry
Her smile fades as she puffs out thin steam
Across the frozen air between them

She wears slippers in the snow
Grey slush as cruel as her childhood
She remains defiant of the weather
The weather remains indifferent to her

And her slippers in the snow

Pig Iron

The rusted rickety shopping cart rolls down Fulton Street
The conductor’s eyes are cast down and his shoulders slump
Shards of architect’s ideas weigh him down in scraps and snips
He senses the presence of the foreigners – but still will not look up

These people will never push a cart full of pig iron across these pot holed streets
These people will never dig into a dumpster on south Ashland Avenue for food
These people will never feel the burning pain of hunger or the reminders of failure
These people don’t belong on Fulton Street west of Ashland on recycling day

October 29, 2013

Her voice sounded like a pigeon playing an ancient cello on 63rd Street and May Avenue
At dusk on an autumn evening when hate was still an infant and innocence not yet a sin

She liked ballin’ the jack where she could stretch her loving arms straight out in space
But keep her knees pressed close together to preserve the last remnants of womanhood
And then you twist around and twist around with all of your might

She wrestled with mortality and lost more often than not – but she never backed down
She bargained with the saints and then she beat them with two queens and two jacks

Every book in her sacred room was open – she loved when the wind turned the pages
Every word was a nugget to be savored and treasured and shared with the hungry

She was truly known by few – but sincerely loved by all