They kept

They kept what they knew
about his survivors private
I heard, however, that there were four daughters
and quite a few grandchildren (8?)
from some marriage-like past entanglement

He fell short as he got old
Wouldn’t bother to argue with you then
and couldn’t laugh at himself anymore
The “well-bred” talk by rote mostly
as a point or two of etiquette,

suavity, politeness and some unctuous fear
of giving offense
He suspects your charm and charm of any sort
He’s a friend of gangsters, some very dumb thugs
Spent some time in jail, they say, for insurance fraud

One truth discovered,
one regretful pang
at the failure to express it
is far better than all of the fluent,
flippancy of this world

Our guy—he drinks too much
and doesn’t work particularly hard
But he’s bright, a charmer even,
a charismatic politician, a putative, ascendant leader—
a kind of public, sallow, officious shadow

He walks the same landscapes everyday...
As a treat dad would eat a “delicious” type red apple
They still sell them today
They didn’t have fugi or granny smiths back then
He had diabetes and had to carefully choose his food

As kids, we’d pick scallions from the roadside
apples from the one apple tree down the street (it blooms again!!!)
She believed that as a mother
she loved her children so much more
than you, as their father, loved yours

He abandoned me and her
and the three kids she’d had
with this other dude
Mom was a social worker, didn’t make a dime
Those weren’t happy days, no sir

You say you think I’m beautiful now
(she really was)
but in my thirties
I had perfectly pure white skin
You should have seen me then

Her face seems young
but her hands are reddish, wrinkled
She looks okay, but something the hell is wrong with her...
Parched and frozen every season
its atmosphere inert and murderously thin,

its surface scoured by solar winds
Something about carousels touched her as a girl
Something about being a girl...
Past generations and we see our same anticipations, fears, wants
followed by disappointments that throb

in our hearts like vaporous bubbles
We appreciated their wit, genius, shrewdness and,
with this longing after the dead, their melting tenderness—
their shadows as we sit on elevated chairs
and stare at the happy, hardy, hungry diners below us

Lean, handsome, with blond hair to the shoulders, smart enough
he worked as a proofreader, drank beer, exuded male model-like
confidence, smiled and would get high a lot
He had a lot of pride and was popular with the ladies, he claimed
I saw him in the street one day

put two fingers in his mouth and whistle loud at a “babe”
like she was some kind of friendly, docile dog across the street
I saw her role her eyes—“Hey Baby!!!” he shouts and smiles
No woman I know wants to be talked at that way
Then there was the day my love called me in a panic

because someone’s big, shabby, hairy tame dog was loose in the building
and she couldn’t leave her apartment alone because this dog might
snarl at her, bite her or worse—I didn’t think, this grown woman’s gone mad
but thought instead “She loves me and needs me and isn’t that great?”
But I was wrong, she didn’t need me at all, she was simply insane




-April 28, 2013-