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…

Long Road, Short Time

Splash, skip

jump, flip

stick your tongue out

pout your lip

 

Grow, play

run, pray

getting taller

every day

 

Chores, toys

birthday joys,

making friends with

girls and boys

 

School, sports

jeans, shorts

staying focused

out of sorts

 

College years,

drinking beers,

childish anger,

grown-up fears.

 

Career, life

children, wife

Partners team to

deal with strife

 

Kids adults now,

partners old,

summer years

turn into gold.

 

Partner leaves,

one remains, wipes away

the teary stains

 

sits, porch

love’s torch,

lonely heart is

feeling scorched.

 

silence, loud

family crowd,

grandson gently

pulls the shroud

 

Broke hearts

tears flow

in the ground

they watch you go.

 

end of days,

end of rhyme.

 

Long Road,

short time.

 

Sifting Shifting Sand

All my duties come to naught,

and as for all the things I bought,

I place the high-def screens in

front of things that really matter,

 

And put the things that really matter

inside the screen.

 

Pictures of family

Pictures of memories

Pictures of successes

Pictures of loss and regret

Pictures of friends who lost

the battle to live forever…

 

And today,

here I stand

utterly alone,

wrapped in sullen silence,

chilled by cold thoughts and

ironic imaginings

of what might have been

after all this time.

 

Sifting shifting sand,

unable to find what I deemed insignificant

and buried,

only to realize all that

ever matters

is the life you’re living

 

Now.

Night Roads

This is a WIP currently being written in serial form at the link below.

Please check it out, and feel free to comment.

Be honest, but kind.

If you troll me, I will send zombie vampires to hunt you. In a novel, of course….

We all know there’s no such thing as zombie vam– (OW! Get back down there, you stinking–!)

 

http://channillo.com/series/night-roads/

The Days Were Few and Happy

The struggle to breathe

grows harder and laborious,

and soon, not worth the effort.

 

The heartbeat softens to a

padded thudding

of arrhythmic improvisation

 

The light, both sun and lamp alike,

grows dim

 

And the features

of your faces

so familiar

are now only

sketches in sepia

drawn by rheum,

inked in cataract,

and blindness creeps with

a serpent’s crafty slowness

to seize small sight

in its unrelenting

coils of darkness

 

But the memories

of grand carnivals,

of dire hurricanes,

laughter, tears

prizes, penalties

trials, victories

unity, dysfunction

safety , strife

 

holiday dinners

and birthday songs

 

pride and humility

for good or ill

all said and done

except the last

goodbye

and  giving the last remnants

of my love

 

The days were few and happy,

and the honor of growing

beside you

made it all

worthwhile.

 

 

Do the Bones of Men Remember?

Do the

bones of men

remember days

of brave and

daring deeds?

Do they long for

love and battle

when they rode their

noble steeds?

Do they mourn

the silent rhythm

of a strong and

beating heart?

Do they miss the

lilt of melody

and master works

of art?

Do they once recall

the clamor and the clanging

of their toil?

And the scent of

perfumed women

and the seasons

and the soil?

Do the

bones of men

remember night

and moon and sea

and star?

Do they contemplate

the faulted flesh that made them

what they are?

Do the bones remember

holding onto children, home

and wife?

Do the bones remember

anything at all of

loving life?

When we return to dust

I pray our bones will only sleep,

instead of dreaming

of the things of life

we couldn’t keep.