DEATH SENTENCES AND LOVE STORIES

 

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The neighbor is moving

Stacks of planks

To the backyard,

Digging his way into the construction

Zone he rented officially today—

The bathroom and kitchen still

Unfinished—and I wonder

Where he found the long planks.

There’s no question

Where the young girl

Following him came from,

Her posture and gait

The same as her dad’s.

 

Last night I visited a friend of mine

Who’s been battling melanoma.

I hadn’t seen him in a month,

And he’d lost a lot of weight,

Resembling those photos of Buchenwald

Ghosts at the end of the war . . .

Still he’s upbeat about his death

Sentence, thinks he’s got it on the run,

Though he appears to be on the ropes

And struggling to hang on, he’s still

On his feet, still bobbing and

Weaving—determined to win.

 

A couple weeks back I bumped into

Another old friend I hadn’t seen in awhile,

And he got that grave look on his face,

Asked if I was alright—he was afraid

I had cancer. Of course I laughed

It off, told him to kiss my ass,

Assured him I was dying

One day at a time and took his curse

As a compliment for dropping twenty pounds.

We’re so vain and oblivious—

And that’s probably for the best—

But after seeing Bob last evening

And slipping on his shoes, size C,

I was reminded why they fit perfectly—

All things are a reflection of me—and cancer

Is here like the birds and the trees.

 

Survivor of another day

Under the summer sun, one more

Promising afternoon in this green

Dimension listening to the blues,

I gave up on the answers

Years ago, long before I gave up on the questions,

And pretty much think if I ever did

Consider taking a stand on an issue

Like “What really matters the most?”

Most likely I’d vote for this moment—

And I know that’s totally selfish,

But I think it’s true—that we best

Honor being alive by living,

By paying attention and loving

Our breath, the air—being here.

 

Turns out I’m notching love stories today:

The new neighbors working, bees

Gathering on the clover, the cats napping

In the shade of Mississippi blues

Flooding my ears and filling my heart

Like skinny Buddha-Bob

Smiling hollow-eyed in his hammock,

Sipping vegetable juice from a quart

Mason jar, so happy to see us,

Glad we took the time to stop by

And share our voices, praise the mysteries—

Tomorrow and yesterday—

Toast our weepy joys and cramping guts

From laughing too hard or from crying

Too much—the sweetness of loss,

Of holding on—we love to

Live this dream.

 

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