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Friday, February 25, 2011

SONOFABITCH








I remember the first time.
It was a crisp Omaha morning, and I was four--
playing in my front yard when three boys came along.

They were BIG kids--maybe eight or nine--
and one of them said: HEY, YA LITTLE SONOFABITCH!
Just casual like...
I asked him what that word meant,
and he said: Go ask yer mama, sonofabitch!

So I did.

NOTHING...it means NOTHING, she said.
And: Who told you that word?
I led her outside to meet my new friends,
but they had disappeared.

And I couldn't understand why they had gone.

Years later there was a girl named Mary
who lived with me in the Hotel San Cristobal
overlooking the ocean in Old San Juan.
There was a little Italian place nearby
where we would drink wine and she would call me "Ducky."
Then one night we were arguing in bed
and she said:YOU SONOFABITCH
and tore my ring from her finger and threw it against the wall.
Then she disappeared.

And I couldn't understand why she had gone.

Time passed and one day my best old childhood buddy
came to visit me in Tucson. I met him
at the airport and he said: YOU OL' SONOFABITCH!

We caught up on things and downed a few,
then we downed a few more.
Before you knew it the days had flown by
and I was taking him back to the airport
where he did this funny bit, singing: We'll meet again...
don't know where, don't know when...
And then he disappeared.
Two weeks later I got a phone call--
he'd been in a bad car wreck and was lying
in a coma in an Amarillo hospital.
Two days hence he departed this world
without regaining consciousness.

And I didn't understand why he had gone.

But all that was long ago...
and things are gonna be different now!
So I've made me a new rule.

If you're gonna call me a sonofabitch...
you've got to promise not to leave.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CONTRIBUTION


















Everyone who was alive in 1885 has jumped ship.
Where'd they go? We don't know.
But they've taken their secrets with them.

And you and I, fast becoming museum pieces,
are on that same journey from the relevant to the obscure--
eyes soon to be staring from a sepia-toned photo
in the glass encased confines of the local historical society.

And what have you contributed to the dialogue, my boy,
and will any of it survive the fuzzy TV snowstorm screen of time?
And what would they know of the real you
if indeed a name or a photograph survived?

Still, you'd like to be remembered--and don't know why--
though you think it has something to do with being loved.
And you're content to write shit in silent protest of your solitude.
And you feign indifference in your involuntary celibacy,
telling yourself that ass isn't all it's cracked up to be--
though in truth it's just like food--no big deal until you have to go without.

And you wonder at what exact moment did you cross the line
from "so fine" to something more akin to what the cat drug in.
And why didn't anyone warn you of the impending disaster?
Now, generally, you avoid mirrors, though sometimes
you seek them out with a morbid curiosity.

In elementary school we sang "Frere Jacques"
and "When Those Caissons Go Rolling Along"
in our gruffest soprano voices.
"Play That Funky Music White Boy"
had not yet seared its way into our psyche--
the circadian rhythm of time still on the verge
of breaking into a more primal beat.
Now, all the young women are turning bi-sexual,
SO TIRED of waiting for guys to call...
and the beat goes on.

Dawn's curtain rises above the prairie.
Actors resigned to their fate
begin to stir and vie for parking spots.
Sweeping west, reptilian eyes blink and greet the sun.
Palm fronds sway in the breeze,
and your island dreams are dashed
in the swell of concrete--the shimmering heat
rising to meet the sky, and you and I
are no closer to our first hello and our last goodbye.

Day is done. The local TV newscasters--
so Shirley Temple serious--
so imbued with their own sense of self-importance,
as if anyone will give a damn
about the words they mouth from a teleprompter
ten years from now...or even next week.
Surely, my boy, YOU can manufacture
something with a longer shelf-life.

Or maybe not.

Maybe just another face in the group photograph
turning yellow with age--
waiting for some stranger
contemplating the swift passage of time.






Sunday, February 6, 2011

PREGNANT WEATHER GIRLS


























A cold front? A warm front?
Will it rain or shine?
He can't remember what she said
Cuz she just looks so fine

There's sexy Sue, and Ashley too
Reporting with exuberance
Then one day without warning
WHOAH--a big protuberance!

Now her face is glowing
Smiling oh so brightly
Cuz she's so proud to show the world
What she's been doing nightly

Oy! His curvy fantasy
Has turned into a blob
And now it's plain for all to see
That she's been laying down on the job

The boss was overheard to say
(Only half in jest)
That when she stands in front of the map
Her bulge blots out the whole midwest

Oh, those pregnant weather girls
There's one on every station
Don't get too used to seeing her
She'll soon be on vacation

Now you see her, now you don't
Now filling in--the janitor, STEVE!
But hey folks out there, don't you fret
She'll be back after months of maternity leave

She knows the camera loves her
But so does good ole Ted
And things would be much simpler
If she could just do the weather from bed

Yep, she's gonna have it all
A career and kiddies too
But all those little darlings
Will be raised by a nanny named Cindy Lou