Friendships Are Fickle

Friendships are fickle

The old man concluded.

It put him in a pickle

About his being excluded.

One Fourth of July

His presence was included;

The next he would fly

To banished and excluded.

To the Derby party always

He brought passable bourbon

Then his favor went sideways

And his presence a burden.

So now on the Fourth

And every Derby Day

He sits in his house

Sipping the bourbon away.

Friendships are fickle

The old man concluded,

But no longer in a pickle,

No longer deluded.

He looked at his wife

And gave her a wink.

The shortness of life

Gave him pause to think.

The love of a good woman

And a few true friends

Are the way an old man

With a sad heart mends.

Academic Hell and Heaven

In grades one through four he didn’t have a clue.

By the grace of God he barely made it through.

And then his family moved from city to burb

Where his fifth grade teacher sought to curb

The new phenomenon of social promotion

By calling resolutely for a full grade demotion.

The hapless boy’s father had apoplexy

At the thought of the boy’s reverse destiny

And begged and pleaded with the cross-armed matron

To give the kid a chance and escape the clutches of Satan

In what would surely be the hell of a repeated grade.

So the teacher would yield only if progress were made.

She insisted that dad take heart and do his parental part

For the kid to have a brand spanking new academic start.

Unbeknownst to the kid, they made a devilish pact

To keep the errant child fastened to the right track

And so, as a matter now of history, they gave that

Boy a table and chair where he sat and studied and sat

Until with distinction he earned his doctorate,

And by then he knew he owed it all to Mrs. Allen

Who gave him hell but paved the way to academic heaven.

I Know You, Sally Sue

I know you use Sally as your nom de plume,

but I know you, Sally Sue, and always will,

the formerly impoverished, little, fundamentalist

girl from rural wherever probably with roots going

back to ever backward in your own denial of what

was good back there. We’re all trying to escape our roots

and then finally find the peace in finding them again

(and it’s as if seeing it again but for the first time Eliot wrote).

You too, Sally Sue? Did you ever like yourself or are all your

well publicized good deeds for the less fortunate,

ironically, a way to further separate you from those roots?

Trying to dismiss and erase what was in the marrow

of your bones, you hitched your wagon resolutely

to what you saw as a rising star and you have ridden

that star ever since while posturing for the poor

from your now elitist perch. It is so much easier to

see if you are looking down. Are you looking

for yourself down there? Look closely, Sally Sue. It’s

you and she’s looking back at you. Carl Sandburg

once wrote that the ugliest word in the English language

is “exclusive,” and there are those who would add

“dismissive,” and I have seen such dismissiveness

brutally dismiss innocence. Those are two words I think

of when I think of you, formerly impoverished, little, fund-

amentalist girl, Sally Sue — exclusive and dismissive.

Those are strange, poets would say ugly, words

upon which to build a legacy and describe a lifetime

of achievements regardless what the paper

may praise.  You wish to be “exclusive” and that

you surely are and always have been “dismissive.”

How sad, how profoundly sad….

And now as your seemingly false altruism justifiably

fades, you face the cruel reality of  insignificance

from which you have sought so hard to escape.

But that insignificance has only been in the mirror

of your own mind as the Lloyd Weber words ring,

“Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” and your Betty Davis

eyes and Joan Crawford smirk fade from the big

screen of life as we all eventually, graciously or

defiantly, exit stage left.

He Wandered Through His Neighborhood

He wandered through his neighborhood one day

shortly after he was home to stay

from his travels way out west and south

last December when he really wanted out

of the cold and snow and bone-chilling damp

to a place of warmth where he could camp

safe under the stars with scorpions and rattlesnakes

who, unlike his neighbors with all their hates,

only wanted to be left to their own devices.

So here he was back inhaling spring’s delicious spices

wondering when those whose property had been inherited

would strike out with venom and proudly appeal to a reptile’s

“Territorial Imperative.”

His Arm

There was something in him

that was out of control – his

arm.  He had been on his way –

Little League All Star, Kiwanis

All Star. His dad had worked

with him, hour after hour, on

his hitting, fielding and throwing

and then his dad just up and died.

Then in high school, he still hit

and fielded skillfully, but he could

no longer throw the ball straight

from left field, center field or

right. They put him on first base

where they thought he would

do the least damage and when

he couldn’t throw the ball from

first to home anymore, the coach,

back in the day, said the politically

incorrect thing: “Just roll it in,

girly.” For the next several years

he kept his life together, more

or less, and then he saw Steve

Sax, second baseman for the

Los Angeles Dodgers and

premier professional baseball

player, lose his throwing arm

and Steve couldn’t throw the

ball from second to first and

he wondered what Steve

was going through and he

thought that if it could happen

to such a great player as Steve,

it could happen to him, for

whatever reason  and he took

comfort in Steve’s misery and

he figured out that his arm went

crazy after his dad died and that

his arm was still out in left field

and would ever and always be

there and while he felt really bad

for Steve Sax, he gave thanks for

his wild left arm, the arm

coaches thought would be his ticket

to the big leagues, the arm that

went crazy after his dad died

— the arm that took and absorbed

all the grief and let him find his

way out of left field and

into life.

Watching Old Movies

Watching old movies, he asked

His wife, Aren’t all those actors

Now dead? And then he recalled

That all the actors from all the

Old films he watches are dead

And his mother and father are

Dead and his first wife is dead

And the husband of his wife

Died on April 1 twenty years

Before and so April Fool’s

Jokes aren’t particularly funny

Anymore. And she knows that

In the future they still won’t

Be very funny. She knows that

About the future and she

Imagines being  in the future

Listening to an April Fool’s joke

And thinking instead about her

Dead husband who lives in the

Moment. Some say that the

Past, the present and the future

Are all occurring at the same

Time and for two hours the

Old actors are alive while he

Sips his wine and when

He thinks about them, his

Parents are alive and in his

Dreams his late wife lives and

Then he thinks that one day his

Children will think about him when

He is dead and he will come to life

In his past and their present and

That will be in the future maybe and

We all know we are going to

Die, but the only ones who really

Know the immediate future are

Those who have decided on

Suicide. What they don’t  know

Is the aching hole in the

Hearts of those who live

On into a frightening, unknown


Courage from the Rear

She says she is outraged by

the false accusations of another

and he says, You’re on your

own, and then all the positive

responses pour in and when it

comes to possible future

declarations of innocence

and setting the record straight,

he says, Count me in.

I’m behind you 1000%.

Now, that’s courage.