Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Riding II

    I had to learn as I rode
    Back and forth on
    The 405 never to let
    My thoughts interfere
    With my riding.  Those
    Who did not ride this
    Way soon gave it up.

    Close-calls were common
    When a mind is allowed
    To wander.  Mine never did.
    For years I rode never thinking
    Of anything but the road
    Until I got home and put
    My bike away.  Susan was

    There then, drifting in and
    Out between the lanes.  She’d
    Wake with a start as I set a
    Tray of food on her lap.  She
    Smiled her thanks
    But smiles no longer,
    And I no longer ride.

Riding I


    The roses always bloomed
    For her, but not for me --
    But I still feel an obligation
    To Try.  They ration water
    Here and it seldom rains.
    I encountered an Indian
    In the dry river bed

    Who asked for a drink
    And I gave him one.
    He went on ahead 
    With confidence after
    Having said he was
    Never here.  I am
    Here – at least for now.

    I dreamed of office debates
    And conflicts all of which
    Demanded my involvement.
    I dreamed I went outside in
    The rain and covered my bike.
    Later I rode home with
    It stinging my eyes.

Her Hand

    I tried to hold her hand
    A little longer, gripping
    It as firmly as I could;
    Never willingly letting
    It go, and its going
    Was in one sense only.
    I have it still whenever

    I sleep, whenever my mind
    Drifts it is there.  Lights
    Flicker and I’m never sure
    Where I should be.  Other
    People are self-concerned,
    Passing, looking neither
    Right nor left.  Susan

    Unlike them is always near,
    Here some place, saying
    Things she said before --
    The normality I’m left with.
    We never discuss this
    Arrangement.  I simply
    Assumed there would be one.

The Big One

    Not everyone would see the flash
    Or feel the heat of the explosion.
    Night would be the most
    Spectacular time, signs exploding
    One by one.  Sitting at a corner
    With Duffy sleeping, Jessica
    Peering through the windshield

    Watching the cloud forming.
    I had seen it in newsreels,
    Backed into an alley
    And turned around.  I was
    Unclear about surviving
    Which in Cold-War days no
    One was supposed to, but

    Many survived Nagasaki
    And Hiroshima.  It could be
    Done, and we were not near a
    Likely target.  Duffy climbed
    Into my lap.  Jessica continued
    To stare with unflinching gaze
    Through the window.  Ben slept.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Riding Alone


    You imagine what it is like,
    Riding the wind as much as the road,
    A sprinkling rain dappling your visor.
    You are enclosed, cut off,
    Feeling you knew you would be
    If you kept on thinking
    As you did.  You

    Must be brought
    To heal or be ostracized,
    The traditional means of being
    Cut off from the tribe.
    You were not meant to ride
    Alone and surely know
    That through your DNA.

    Riding alone you’ll one day
    Find yourself under a truck
    On the 405.  There is no
    Place, we’ve seen through
    Our lenses, for a being
    Like you – though as old
    As you are it no longer matters.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Straggling on the Beach

    Stragglers on the beach –
    Seaweed the next tide
    Will drag back out.
    The band has come
    And gone – the prizes
    Given.  Those still
    Here have nothing won.

    Undone as we are,
    Shirts and shoes
    Bereft, eyes grit red
    That barely see the
    Passing of gulls, the
    Raucous tribe that
    Battles for the little

    Left.  Here and there
    Sand crabs creep
    Out to look and then
    Slip back. Nothing
    Remains but the crawling
    Over to pass Beyond.  I’ve
    Passed beyond now many times.

On Getting Down

    Catching myself dreaming I can
    At least credit those fanciful
    Scenes for the leaden moods
    Of my mornings – but absent
    Recollections, the heavy world
    Is like scraps of paper
    Jessica leaves strewn

    On my study floor.  I grope
    About for whatever’s
    There, raise my head and
    With faulty ears listen
    For something in the trees
    Outside – birds perhaps
    Or just the wind ending

    This unsuccessful introspection.
    I lift some weights, dash
    About the house doing
    Chores, see outside that
    The heavy clouds have yet to
    Lift.  Without meaning to
    I feel better in an hour or two.

Chances taken and refused


    He hated to miss work
    So he lay his head on the
    Track knowing the train
    would wake him.  If it
    Did the coroner
    Wouldn’t say -- if
    He knew, but how could

    He know (a grisly pausing
    In the reminiscence)?  Those
    Dangerous tracks when young
    Come crowding back – I could
    Have fallen from a balcony
    Or an oil derrick while standing
    On my hands.  My friends

    Took no chances and shied
    Away from all I did though
    Gone now from cancer and
    Large quantities of booze. 
    My close calls lifted my head
    From the track and drew me
    Down from my high places.


    Creeping up, he never heard
    My thoughts.  Writhing while
    I watched, he didn’t care.  His 
    Face contorted as the last of
    His memories slipped away.  I
    Stepped aside to let them pass,
    Marking, as I did, the place

    With a turned-down page.
    They won’t need us to fly
    Or drive cars.  They can
    Rebuild our arms and legs.
    Time was I climbed several
    Peaks near here and could
    See the activity below.

    Time was I cared and said
    So to the faces which would
    Go blank as their thoughts
    Went black and their
    Tongues clogged, stopping
    Whatever words they
    Would say if they could.



    I spilled a fruit-drink
    Over my desk and down
    The back.  “Oh no!” I
    Shouted as I always do.
    Jessica barked, “What
    Now?”  She watched me
    Intently as I rushed about

    Wiping it up
    With a towel, using
    A cleaner, not getting
    It clean enough.  She
    Sat still watching as
    I raised my hands
    In apology.  “Sorry.

    I shouldn’t have yelled.
    Susan wouldn’t have,
    But we don’t have her
    Any more,” I said, going
    On thinking Jessica
    Came later. Susan
    Was already gone.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Body in the Backyard

    I woke part-way, my mind spinning
    With worry – Susan said it was not
    Her fault, but sometimes it was,
    And she wouldn’t remember; so
    I tried to let it go.  She said she’d
    Take care of this one, but when
    I sat up and looked out, the

    Body was still there – in plain
    Site – at least one leg was. 
    She had thrown a tarp over
    The upper part.  She descended
    Further it would seem – this had
    To be on me this time, but I
    Knew nothing of concealing

    Something like this.  I imagined
    Dragging him to the end of the dock,
    Pulling him down into the West-
    Wight Potter, down into the hold,
    And sailing out, but how far
    To go prevent his drifting
    Back in?  I kept drifting

    Back into sleep despite needing I
    Knew to get up.  Get him into the
    Potter would be very slow work.
    I’d need to stock it for several days,
    And who would manage Susan while
    I was gone?  Maybe if I hid him
    Some place else, maybe cutting

    Him up.  I shuddered at the thought
    of cleaning the mess, tip-toed
    Down the hall to see if she knew
    Who he was, shook her gently,
    “What?” She groaned.  “Do you
    Know who he was?”  “Who?”
    She groaned again.  “The man
    You killed.”  “What?” She said
    Again, trying to rise. “There’s a
    Dead man in our back yard.  You
    Killed him on the way home.”
    “What?” She said again, eyes wide.
    “Never mind,” I said in a calming
    Voice.  “I’ll take care of things.”

    “Okay,” she sighed and lay back
    Down.  I tip-toed out, brewed
    A cup of espresso, thought, and
    Needed more.  Who he was
    Couldn’t be allowed to count.
    I needed once again to think --
    One final time to get it right.

    Note: The West Wight Potter is a small sail boat designed for the rough north seas.  I owned a Potter in the 70s and 80s.  It was the first sail boat I took Susan out in and she loved it.  Here are the Potter’s specifications:

In Declining Years

    Lightning flashed in the west.
    A black cloud-like dragon
    Enveloped our world.  “Sing out,”
    A brave voice sounded – cut short
    By a hacking cough, followed by
    Clouds of smoke as he lit another
    Cigarillo.  “Oh ye doubters

    In piles, from one end of my
    Hall to the other.” He raised
    His other fist and shook it.
    The rafters rattled as
    The dark cloud settled around
    Us.  Night in its most extreme
    Manifestation trades away

    Our sun for four planets, a
    Meteor and a hand-full of
    Asteroids.  I thought there
    Would be more of a conflagration:
    Wars, fire and brimstone. But
    We have aged and become too
    Feeble to raise our hands in rage.