True Colors

In this asylum called life, no one makes it alone.

In my own times and trials, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that in my own life, there have been good people, people who don’t look like me, who came alongside me when my fortunes reversed.

From the late 90s through the early 2000’s I went through a serious thyroid illness, a divorce, and severe financial distress, one paycheck away from homelessness and having my only means of transportation repossessed.

It was humbling to need help, and embarrassing to ask, but need overruled pride, because I came to the realization that I would do whatever was needed to keep from being on the street, because, to be honest, I didn’t think there’d be any coming back from that.

So I asked. And sometimes G-d provided without me having to say a word.

And with unconditional love and no hesitation, there were friends and acquaintances who simply came to me and said, “What do you need?”

Color, politics, entitlement, privilege, condescension, patronization, and a sense of supremacy were never part of the equation. A man in need was aided by good people, in the spirit of the Samaritan.

They made sure I had food, gas, bass lessons, and shelter. They gifted me vehicles for transportation before I was finally able to afford a car. They opened their homes, finances, and hearts to me in my darkest moments.

They encouraged me when my spirits flagged, but they also loved me enough to hold me accountable to make the changes needed to get back on my own two feet. That meant leaving them and pulling up my roots to start over, and they helped me with that, too.

Without them, there is no Alfred Smith, wannabe author and occasional bassist.

Without them, there may well not have been a 2017, where I’m now back on my feet and moving forward with a lifelong dream.

I am honored and blessed to still number them among my friends, even though way has led on to way.

So it is to them, I say:  It’s been a long road back, but you’ve all walked the extra mile to get me here.

And for that, with love and gratitude, I thank you with all my heart.

God bless you, all ways.

 

 

 

Of Summers Passed

Ah, I see. You must leave again, my love

to pave the way for your older sister,

the one who colors before the whitening kill.

I shall miss you.

Will you miss me?

We dance this dance

year by year,

and the music,

while ever as sweet,

slows down to the rhythm

of our ending.

I do love the touch of

your sun

upon my skin,

and the way your breath of song

makes the branches dance.

The brightness of your eyes

makes me don that which

tames their radiance,

and the weight of your stare

warms me.

The touch of your hot kiss

on my face

makes me close my eyes

and offer up my cheeks.

My heart takes sanctuary

in your

ethereal greenery,

as even now

you start to fade.

Summer,

I will miss you,

resting in the surety

of your

perennial return.

Sleep well, my love,

and know

my heart

is ever

yours.

The Value of Things

Indrissa hated everything about the market: the noise, the smell of animals, the smell of people, the squalling of reckless running children that always resulted in something breaking, fighting off the feral animals that roamed and the endless vermin that stayed, the constant haggling, the heat of the sun, and the leering of men.
Resigned, she lamented her lot, until the day he came.
He bought a small, cheap necklace from her with a fake green gem and asked her to try it on so he could see how it looked. “I’m buying it for a special lady.”
Humoring him as well as herself, she put it on. “I’m sure she’ll be happy with it,” she fastened the clasp and looked up at him with a fake smile, “and pleased with you.”
He smiled back. “And are you?”
She tilted her head and looked at him, questioning his meaning. “What?”
“Are you happy with it, and pleased with me?”
She began to unfasten it and hand it back to him. “I don’t understand…”
He held up his hand to stop her. “I bought it for you, Indrissa.”
“Sir, I don’t think—“
“I’ve watched you for a long time. You always look distant and unhappy; you don’t like the market, do you?”
She felt her face heat, realized her hands were still poised to take the necklace off, but she didn’t.
“No, I don’t. I inherited this business from my parents so I wouldn’t fall prey to the scavengers here.”
Not far away was a stage with half naked men and women, and the grim, silent men below them who’d as soon cut a throat as shake a hand. Gold and silver coins flashed through fingers faster than the eye could follow, and the stage began to gradually empty.
He nodded. “I’ve watched them, too.”
She assessed him, trying to place him, but couldn’t; he said he’d been watching her.
Either it had been in plain sight, or he was stalking her.
Still, he’d bought her a gift, albeit from her own stall, and made himself known; if he’d wanted her dead, or harmed, he had more than his share of opportunities.
“So what are you going to do?” she asked, surprised to find herself a bit shy, “Take me away from all this?”
He shuffled a bit, now nervous himself. “Not right away. I could make coming here better for you, though.”
“And how’s that?”
“It’s what you’re selling. No one wants that. It’s for children…”
He stayed at the booth, talking business in between flirting.
He bought lunch for two, and sat beside her as they ate.
She could see some of the other merchants begin to cast furtive glances in their direction.
If he noticed, he didn’t seem to care; he was all business, offering to increase the value of her wares, and if she wanted, she could take him on as a partner. They’d do well together, and ….
The hours went quickly, and he helped her pack and walked her to the gate.
“Will I see you tomorrow?” she asked.
He smiled. “Would you like to?”
She actually giggled, and nodded. “Yes, I would.”
“Then I will be here.” He stuck out his hand for her to shake, and she did.
At home that night, bathed and pleasantly exhausted, she had a sip of something strong, and stared out the window at the rising moon.
She thought of him, and her hand went to her throat.
With a small smile, she felt the gem and chain beneath her fingertips.
She’d forgotten to take it off, and now she didn’t want to.

Let These Words be True

So when all is said and done,

and I’ve seen my final sun,

and the final tale is spun,

who will say what I have won?

 

Have I touched a human life?

Relieved someone else’s strife?

Offered comfort, peace, and love

to someone I’d rather shove?

 

Have I made a small child smile?

Did I walk the extra mile?

Did I listen for awhile?

Aided someone through a trial?

 

Did my giving of a gift

give a trodden spirit lift?

Did my words that gave approval

lead to heavy load’s removal?

 

Did the music that I play

brighten someone else’s day?

Did the lessons that I taught

make the out-of-reach get caught?

 

Perhaps I will never know,

for I do it as I go.

From the surgeon to the skater,

plant a seed that may grow later.

 

May these words I write be true.

May they be true of you, too.

When Do You Need Me?

 

When do you need me?

“When I’m doing well.

Standing victorious,

riding the swell.”

 

When do you need me?

“When I’m feeling low,

walking with sadness,

with no place to go.”

 

When do you need me?

“In thunderous rain,

in heat waves and blizzards,

in heartache and pain.”

 

When do you need me?

“When others don’t care.

They stop and they laugh

and they point and they stare.

 

“When do you need me?”

When loneliness calls,

and deafening silence

fills dim, darkened halls.

 

“When do you need me?”

In mornings so bright,

I just can’t stop smiling

and everything’s right.

 

“When do you need me?”

Right here and right now.

I need you to love me

the best you know how.

 

When do you need me?

Each day and each night,

for you are my weakness

with all of my might.

Fare Well

Farewell,

my love.

It seems I knew you not.

The sound of the closing door

was a whispered sob

that only served to

amplify the tearing of

separation.

 

Farewell,

my love.

It seems we both forgot.

The days of laughter and love,

at once torrid and tender.

Our words of fealty

and the promises in stone

eroding with time

and the day to day

decay of fantasy.

 

Farewell,

my love.

We gave it our best shot.

The letdown felt like chains

and the arguments were

thorns in the side

that never healed,

and mortal grace

was insufficient.

 

Farewell, my love.

We didn’t love a lot.

Our curses even now ring like

minor key bells

in my memory.

 

Farewell, my love.

In beauty there is rot.

And in the sun’s persimmon rays

we say farewell to better days

in the land of loving thought.

 

Fare well, my love.

 

Clear as Dark Glass

In the window

at dawn

you used the light

to wink at me.

I came to the window

to admire you

and assess what it would mean

to possess you.

And now inside,

I hold you,

and see that you are etched

with life’s hieroglyphs.

They are a riddle,

and you are a puzzle.

‘I know you,’ I say,

holding your dusky essence,

turning you in my hands.

I hold you up to the light

and look through dark glass,

seeing clearly where I would come to rest

in tortured love sublime.