Why I’m grateful (Thanksgiving, 2016)

Real pleasure requires at least two—
someone to use me, someone to use
“Painting, I can still paint”
He was at the time making his art
from colorful paper cutouts
“There’s plenty of time to paint,
I’m only 83”

Thought about an old love as I watched grave
diggers yesterday dig deep into icy ground,
their toughness as they shovel the ground
by hand, while we few mourners grieved
So she left me back then— now I’m glad
I’m not stuck with some menopausal,
prune-faced, narcissistic, freak

Then there was the guy known as
the mayor of the gym because
he led our raucous locker room talk
(Don’t get all out of joint dear, sports, not
women, sports mostly) and he used to
put his fancy black shoes and socks on before
his pants just to show us he can

Don’t be fooled—
the animal in that picture with Debby
isn’t a friendly, sloppy red-haired
retriever and nor is it alive
It’s a small lion she imported from Africa
She admires her birds and beasts stuck
in time, fierce, stuffed and mounted

My countrymen fought in Vietnam—
I didn’t
Our elites used napalm to destroy—
Not I
Like Pompey the Great,
some lives outlast their powers
God, how I loved her, over so many nights

Graduation night celebration, high school
There’s Andy and Linda— an item
all through high school
There’s Linda crying her eyes out
while Andy sits on a bench and whispers
sadly to no one of us
“Why must Linda always embarrass me?”

With a combination of sacrilege
and extravagance on all sides,
children burned and no one would help
The emperor had unkempt hair and
bad teeth and used platform shoes
to disguise his short stature and
hypocrisy was his preferred

weapon of persuasion
We saw noble pictures and
admirable statues of him everywhere
We tried to be staid and true
Now we’re all about the bawdy,
the rambunctious and,
we no longer care who’s in or out

My dear, like the old centurions,
we have all felt pain that cuts deep—
Never underestimate your abilities
to just tough it out
like some soulful old music
played with great eloquence,
in a violent eternity of doubt



-December 3, 2016-