Tag Archives: winter

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

The Elusive Winter Cardinal

Death comes filtering into the fully carpeted room
Like the black-toothed hunting partner trying to stay invisible
But letting its presence be known all the while
It sneaks peeks around upholstered chairs from under couches
The old ones always seem to find it around the holidays
They are not afraid of it
Though they’d rather it waited there
Pressed against the carpet until they are ready to go
Then they can reach down and take it by the ear
They can lift it up into their wrinkled arms
The young ones rarely see it until it is too late
It sneaks up while they are busy with something else
It sneaks up into their laps and forces them to notice
Even the ones who understand it – fear it
That is because they are young
Youth has a way of confusing itself with immortality
Much the same way as it confuses itself
With its own ego
Too young for death is a naive misconception
Because there is a bullet somewhere with your name on it
You will probably never see the black-toothed hunter
Until the bullet has laid you down
Until you, too, die held in death’s embrace
For now, my friends, death will remain like that
Elusive Winter Cardinal
Even when you think you have seen it
It will be gone before you can be made sure
Leaving the stark leafless branch laughing at you
Leaving you standing there scratching your head
Before you go on your way
Looking for life but thinking about death
Looking for something but thinking about that
Elusive Winter Cardinal

Last Night at the World Center

The tears of a thousand broken lovers rolled down my back last night
The bitter wind cut through 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