Memory Lane

windowMemories are windows to the past but sometimes the view is out of focus, and you are not sure what you are looking at.

Here are two poems from adolescence.  A sometimes painful, but ALWAYS interesting time.


 A History Lesson

my grandfather
always had a storage building someplace
which he filled
with all kind of miscellanea
always on the main street
in deserted, dying, downtowns
where the rent was cheap
in little towns that refused to die
but would not grow either
just shrivel down

the last was in Sturgeon, Missouri
in a building that had housed
a funeral home
that had left
some of the equipment behind
including a tilting narrow stainless steel table with gutters and drains
as well as other macabre
before that
the storage building was in Clark, Missouri

General Omar Bradley
was born just outside of Clark
a small town
of about 300 people
we drove there one day to visit
that storage building and
retrieve something or other
he had squirreled away there

as we drove into town
we passed a bum
who probably looked older than he was
because of that weathered look
drunks and homeless get
dressed in white dungarees and ragged white t-shirt
walking alongside the road
my grandfather waved at him
from the front seat
of his dark Olds Delta 88

“Fuck you.”
was all the guy said
my grandfather laughed
one of those soft big bellied Buddha laughs of his
He said: “That guy used to be the best house painter in the state.”
I asked:
“What happened?”
he answered:
“He became a drunk.”
as if that said it all

which it did

I think about that day
a surreal scene
which I replay in my mind
the thing I remember most is the laugh
a Zen koan chuckled rather than a spoken Jesus parable

Grandfather’s laugh was
an acknowledgment, a resignation,
with a dash of rancor directed toward something inside himself as well
with which he wrestled
but would not name out loud

The Little White House

there was anger there
in that little white house
and the scent of the household
was unfamiliar to me then
such that it took
many years to realize
who was responsible
what went wrong
when it started
how the clammy hand
of helplessness
held everyone down
such that some resigned
others raged
or went AWOL
and then you fought free
like a wild animal
that chews their own leg off
mad to escape the trap
there was anger there
in that little white house
but the odor was of fear

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