It was the masseuse

It was the masseuse who told Mom
that while she could provide temporary relief
for her stiff back spasms,
something was terribly wrong
and she needed to see a specialist

I scrupulously mark all my birthdays
but I don’t think I’ll see 83
Do you live well and free?
Did you answer to your promise?
I see some awful things and turn away

It’s as though they breed those dogs
to have smiley faces—
Smiley-faced bulldogs please
Fighting Mom’s cancer was a chess game;
relentless rooks destroyed her piece by piece

Names frequently elude me
Energy, I suppose, is saved
and my reflexes are just a bit slower
Ruth fed me her sugar and left
when I was satisfied

Genocide against us doesn’t teach
us to treat humanity with respect;
what we learn is to strike
the bastards first
Even your Daddy wasn’t perfect

When we started she insisted
that I get an earring for my left ear
I didn’t want one but I did it for her
We went together to some kid’s store
full of trinkets and got it done

The skin closed over that scar
Hateful woman, what if I’d refused?
What would be our story then?
An act of favor, I wanted
to do this for her

There was a sage
from long ago, an artist
He knew how our hearts beat
better than we know our own
“In this cold world”

The one-eyed black singer sang
“I sing of those with
sufficient warmth for you”
The one who gets their attention
isn’t always the loudest

He’s often the most dexterous,
the most effective with his words
After great pain you may see straight—
All clear like when you first put on
your glasses in the morning

She found the old man asleep alone
in a pocket park on a bench by a tree
He wandered away last night
half out of his mind with
dementia and grief

When Mom was so sick
I don’t think she was really afraid
until the day she couldn’t fight her way
through that indifferent subway crowd
and missed her stop

Walking across the bridge the two
approach from opposite directions
He won’t yield and she won’t yield
So they angrily bump shoulders
as they pass by each to each

Driving back from the beach
where a young cop said we couldn’t
stay “The season’s over, sir”
Mom said she couldn’t see why
he had to bother a nice family like us

“Did he have to ruin our day?”
Dad said “He was just doing his job”
Ruthy was exotic, she was erotic, she was hot
Tell me great sage “Do the ancient,
lusty dead, long again for this life?”

I dreamt my back was ruined, scarred
by red boils that everyone but me could see
Without my dreamy mirror I wouldn’t have
seen a thing and I thought “I’ll be
attractive again only when they heal”




-September 12, 2015-