Two Poems from Before

                Connie and Karl

We drove out to Pompton lakes
   after Christmas to visit our old friends, Connie and Karl
   She’d keep the Christmas tree up a little longer
with a dazzle of lights, just for us kids

She was the intellectual— bookcases lined with her books
   Loved Mozart, Keats, Yeats, T.S. Eliot
   (had an old recording of the Cocktail Party
I didn’t get it, but loved to hear it play)

Karl was the workingman
   “Don’t complain about your brother Matt
   Of course, his hands are dirty
He’s been outside with me, working”

He led us into the warm house, with its dinner smells, from the car
   my parents and the four of us kids
   Connie had made these long, tall mystery drinks for the adults–-
greenish blue, fun to see, mojitos?— just a now-time, adult guess

She handed one to each of my parents
   and to Karl too and Karl said
   “I don’t want this, it has ice in it
You don’t serve icy drinks on a cold day like this”

“It’s got alcohol in it, damn you Karl,”
   (just a little exasperated, but she smiles)
   “It’ll warm you up, it’s perfect for a day like this
Just drink it Karl, you damn fool, just drink it”


                Some Things She Touched

Some things she touched are in that box—
   like a place in her heart that didn’t yet exist,
   like a singularity that attains, suffers and is
You were her next best chance

“Constipation” said the doctor with some frustration
   I told your mom that is a very bad symptom for her
   I told her to call me immediately...
Yes, I did, I told her

Holiday time—long lines, butt-ass hygiene
   Pure rain smears across the daisy earth
   We see what we thought to see
punctuated by a bit of holiday rudeness

She left those schools without distinction
   and sometimes at their request
   Her sense of smell that day was sharp—
cigarette butts, wet daisies, old marijuana in a can

Sometimes, we’ll make things up without knowing what
   Like explorers who plod in a vast, white icescape
   Like sailor days on calm, placid, mild Caribbean seas
Like pilots who fly in empty, windless, everlasting skies

She had three stepfathers but only two who really scared her
   She couldn’t lose anything more she felt
   She used to stand up to them only when
she had nothing more to lose


-December 9, 2012-