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Just stepping off the Carousel of Progress,
Still, “These are the Times”-ing
When the phone, belt-clipped, rang
With atonal, casual urgency.
Overwhelmed by the sun, I sought shadow-
Preparation for the voice on the other end.
Sweat dripped into my eyes; squinting
As I answered, “Hello,”
Day-Star-blinded and optimistic.
“Have you heard?” “No. What?” “Sorry.”
“God, what is it?”
“His Sun set, finally.” I knew instantly
That, even in the intersection of make-
Believe and greatness, of ranches
And studio lots, he shone—headlined—still.
Loving Nancy and God and America,
And even me,
Tackling malaise with vision, with words,
With myth, from behind the golden
Curtain, before the Iron Curtain
He took his place beyond the sunrise.
To the sunset on our Carousel of
Fighting on, eclipsed and echoing resolve
Like a trumpet against Jericho,
With humble fallibility, page-turning:
A new scene, a new story: an enduring hope.
In the last days, before I was convinced to finally part with her,
I would crawl under the covers and lay my head upon her,
knowing that her days were not unnumbered,
The single constant that had accompanied me since childhood-
thirty years, at least, my quiet sleeping companion.
She gave of her mete to my wandering fingers, searching ever
In those moments when I needed–sought–them
For the wholesome prick of a feather’s quill,
Poking through the fabric meant to contain them as fill,
to be drawn out as an instant treasure, a trophy.
She too, had once been young and fresh and sturdy: unblemished.
The perfect accompaniment for the change to manhood,
Soft and forgiving of my imperfections, midnight-flipped,
Cradling my head in slumber, folded and lumbar-supporting
As I read or watched TV, or in other recumbent endeavors.
As I’d pull one feather out, others queued up for extraction,
Until together, in an OCD-eternity before slumber,
Piles of feathers were transferred to the floor, bits of her
To be gathered up in the morning or pushed underneath the bed
With dust bunnies, crunchy towels and National Geographics.
And after decades of such extractions, the once plump and sturdy,
Unswerving, undemanding, post-indulgent head lounge,
Now sweat, tear, and love-stained, sleep-strained,
Replaced with a cuddling constant that gives without deteriorating:
Slumber, unencumbered and contented and ever strong:
Swooshed and sturdy
Like the overpriced athletic
Shoes that it once housed,
Two decades ago,
Carries the flotsam of a life–
Or is it jetsam?
One thousand eighty cubic inches,
Still loosely packed,
Give or take, with things:
A dusty, half-full bottle of
Drakkar Noir, four-o’d report cards,
Some 6-inch floppy discs-
Long lost, the Polaroid camera,
By the glossy sepia nudes of
Boyfriends and estrangements
With smiling aging me’s in various
States of undress, inebriation and
Once, I know, there was a gold chain
A gift from my grandmother
That I cannot find after picking through
And shaking every item in
The cardboard chest. I lost it, I curse,
Or someone took it.
A love poem I wrote but never gave,
Pen-ink smudged by time and tears.
A glossy New Yorker comic, clipped
By a dear friend
With whom I have since lost contact.
Keys of all shapes and sizes and alloys
Dozens of them,
To all the past places I’ve called home.
My first driver’s license, a Libertarian voter registration,
A Miami Dolphins lower bowl ticket stub.
A slow-ticking, gold-banded Timex watch that I shake, and
Slide on my wrist,
Once the nicest thing I owned.
I have moved this box with me, cramming and
From the east coast to the panhandle
To lakesides to other states to the bayshore.
From dorms to apartments to houses
To mansions to condos.
From optimism to loss to hope.
Here, moving again, moved to a new space
Accounting for and taking inventory
Of stasis in constant change. Time in a box,
Stacked in a new corner:
Stacked in a different closet:
Beneath another ‘nother’s stuff.
And now, another poem to be–undoubtedly–
Revisited again when this newest lease expires.
This space, this time, is perfect.
This box is only so big.
This box is only so big.