You’ve Made a Decision

As I approach,

I see

you

contemplating

me

with a small smile on your face,

as if

you’ve made a decision about me,

reached a conclusion about

whether

we

can work together.

I find your

concentrated gaze

thrillingly disturbing.

Maybe you’re keeping

a secret

that rends us asunder,

that makes

you and me

null and void

instead of

man and woman.

But for now,

I’ll enjoy the beauty

of your eyes,

and the love that remains

behind your small smile,

while you

are silent.

A Father’s Day Memory (2018)

My father’s love of music got to me at an early age. In his apartment he had a ‘music room’ with a reproduction of Picasso’s Three Musicians (Musicians with Masks) painting.

There was always something on the turntable, a ‘featured artist,’ and stuff I played just out of curiosity. I would get lost in the sheer variety, the crafting of the cover art, the liner notes, which I’d read while the music played. It opened the jazz and classical worlds for me, two genres that your average kid growing up in the South Bronx didn’t really have access to.

He had a particular fondness for the jazz organ of Jimmy Smith, the flute of Herbie Mann, the percussive mastery of Mongo Santamaria, and the radical balladry of Nina Simone.

What impressed me the most about my dad regarding this was his prodigious memory.

During my high school years he’d moved out to Teaneck, NJ, and I spent summers there house sitting while he was at work. There wasn’t much in the way of chores except on the weekends where I’d help with the gardening and woodworking projects, but during the week I was free to dive into the bookshelves and records most of the day.

One day I was playing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (Solemn Mass) because I’d never heard it before, and didn’t even know he’d written a Mass. My father walked in, listened to a few seconds of it, and identified it somewhere in the middle of the first movement.

I was impressed. To this day, I wouldn’t be able to identify that if I heard it; it’s not the sort of thing one often plays outside of those who are Beethoven aficionados, or hears played even on classical music stations. It’s a long, serious piece of music, to put it mildly, and I couldn’t say then (1977) how many times he listened to it himself, but it was often enough that he recognized it from a tiny section of audio.

As deep as his love of music was, I don’t know why he never became a musician himself; he was pretty much the kind of man who could do anything he set his mind to. But as far as I know, he never did.

The passion with which he did love it yet remains, and became a permanent part of my life. It provided an escape from the streets, a release for expressing myself, and a legacy my sons continue.

I now have most of my dad’s collection now, Missa Solemnis among them. I haven’t played it yet, but summer’s just starting…

Holding Out Hope

 

Here, a small bright blossom

that contains a wish,

a hope,

a fantasy,

a dream

you hold dear,

a love you crave,

a life you desire,

a treat you’ve been missing.

My gift to you,

My wish for you,

My prayer over you,

My love of you

is all contained

within this

small, fragile,

world,

soft and fragrant,

sweet and kind,

and forgiving

of the fact

that I plucked it

from the source of

its beauty, now fleeting,

because you

are worth the life

of a small, bright blossom,

lasting,

and far lovelier.

Take it.

Together

we will be,

fragile, mortal,

and fleetingly beautiful,

holding out hope for far more

as we get less

than we truly deserve.

Moon Angel

She flies on wings of ivory cloud,

the sun no longer gold,

within a silver amulet

upon a chain she’ll hold.

Her ebon hair now dancing

in the gentle evening air,

She sees the dreams of mortals

as she says her moonlight prayer.

There will be those she’ll cull tonight,

and those she will give dreams.

Her fingers gentle on their brows,

aglow with moonlight beams.

O come now, sweet Moon Angel

for your restless servant waits,

to once again ascend with you to

great Orion’s gates.

 

 

Knowledge Among Ruins

I was lost, for how long I don’t remember.

There was only day night, hill and river, hill and river.

At the summit lay the ruins of a long forgotten castle, or fort,

pummeled by centuries of elements.

It sat now like a petrified toad on the hillside, with only

the sighing mountains for company.

Taking shelter from the strengthening winds,

I sat, closing my eyes, succumbing to the exhaustion of the climb.

Beneath your hands, a treasure lies…

A voice, but disembodied.

Go on, partake…

I scratched the soil with calloused fingers.

Open, and speak the words…

“I don’t know the language.”

It will know you, traveler. Speak them.

And so I did.

I no longer see the ruins, the sun, the starry sky, the sentient stones, the mountains, the spring grass, nor dunes of frosted snow.

I have become all,  my memory seeded into the land, and

all the land seeded into me.

The book still lies just beneath the spongy soil’s surface.

Partake…

Be True

She is leaving now, but perhaps not forever.

Her desire was for better,

but nothing improved.

Life itself eluded her, and the wrong things

occupied her time and body.

There was no longer

anything or anyone

to keep her bound,

and in the incorporeal realm

of her wishes,

not a one came true.

She was not true to herself,

and she would make that right.

It would be today.

It would be right now.

But maybe, just maybe,

not forever.

The Child and The Drum

From behind the curtain

her voice

holds tremolo and vibrato,

high and clear,

sweet and lilting,

with a hint of poignant sadness.

The drum pushes, pulses

her ululations from underneath,

building the bridge

that connects

the world to the origin

of its song,

evolved,

forgotten, debated,

documented, erased,

burned, rescued,

savaged and salvaged,

but ever

created.

The child and the drum.

Two become one,

and the heartbeat

keeps the time of memory,

even now.