Painters Paint

At eight years old,
And lacking much like talent,
I look around the class
At other kids:

The girl beside me,
Tight black hair and brilliant,
Her future full
Of galleries and bids —

The teenage boy,
With parents always fighting,
Whose eyes burn blue
And in whose hand a brush

Turns into something
Almost like a weapon,
And on whom
Black haired girl has such a crush.

The twins, whose sharp
Intention marks their faces,
Each word the teacher says
A precious thing

To them, in their devotion to
Their training;
To labor rather than to
Dance, or sing —

The teacher: short,
Demure, and full of passion,
Her hands as small as mine,
But far more skilled

At making fruit and bottles
Look like something,
A vision caught, transfigured,
Then fulfilled.

All of us, like ants
Upon an anthill,
We did our jobs, our missions,
Sans complaint:

And though I wasn’t really one,
I know now,
The same way hearts keep beating,
Painters paint.

{ fridays off }

in silence sat we, pleasured in her book,
a summer on the edge of autumn chill —
a scholar’s life so measured, then we took
a balancing of glass, a motor skill —
when she was why, because of being who,
we lived our words, and did what we could do.

for my Orlando was she Rosalind,
in days pentametered by word and touch,
and time most perfect to my mind stays pinned
when underfed, and thinking overmuch,
the scene within my cinema plays false —
a drama in three acts within four walls,

as scalable as masks we stretch, then doff,
like foolish dreams, and love, and fridays off

Everyday Fears: Losing Things

I lost my wedding ring last night
While I was with my wife:
I’ve turned the whole house upside down.
The story of my life…

When people put some trust in me
I seem sure to abuse it:
For nothing’s so invaluable
That I don’t go
And lose it

light sudden rain

The sky, the trees, the earth in wash
A humid scent of heavy peace
The days my heart was open to
The language of the universe

When every color was a soul
And every leaf a boy or girl
When raindrops felt like holding hands
To bursting hearts who drank the world

Through straws that looked like human eyes
And human hearts in human skin
When hope was everything I knew
Of what’s to come or what had been

Just past a little lighted sign
For walkers caught out in the rain
And life was wonder wet and all
And solitude not loneliness

Or pain

Summer Grass

Out in the country summer grass,
We ran our breathless races;
With frequent side-trips to the shade,
And splotches on our faces

Out in the country summer grass,
We sang our song of growing;
But of the clouds that gathered near,
There really was no knowing.

Along the riverside so bright,
We grew our nascent egos;
We whispered breezes into life,
And battled with mosquitoes

Along the riverside so bright,
We made friends just to have ’em:
But of the clouds of war and death,
We could not know or fathom.

For time’s a thing
That does not fail to pass,
Like breeze that ripples through
The summer


Forms of Love

She hugged me yesterday, and I could feel
Affection in the pressure and the length;
A smile on her face, a “welcome back,”
A bit of something that I’ve known awhile —

Between the lines, where friendship makes its home,
Is something fragile that, somehow, survives:
Between such lines as needs be, and must be,
Is what our worlds are made of, if we live
In anything like honor or respect —
In anything like loyalty at all —

She hugged me yesterday, and I remarked
On her new haircut, which I liked a lot;
Asked if the holidays were kind to them,
In forms of love appropriate for us

The Life I Could Have Had

A true story.

In my mid-twenties
I applied to and was accepted
Into the Princeton graduate / post-graduate program
In Philosophy

I had been accepted by two of the three other places I applied

I was maybe five months from leaving my Civil Service job
As a mathematician
Trying to figure out how to stretch the money I had saved
Hoping to talk my way into an assistanceship

It was Spring
One of my best friend’s weddings was coming up in a couple weeks
I played basketball with some friends on a Sunday
When I went home, I crashed on the bed
When I woke up, it was Monday evening
And I was on the floor

I got up
Fed my cat
Left a message on my boss’s phone at work
Went back to bed

Woke up, and it was Wednesday
Fed the cat again
Noticed I had bruises all over my body
Went back to bed

Woke up on Friday morning
Fed the cat
Got dressed for work
Showed up right at lunchtime
Looking like death
Some co-worker friends asked me
To come to lunch with them

During lunch
I had a massive seizure
I had been having them for days
And didn’t know it

I missed my friend’s wedding
I was in and out of the hospital for two years
I lost all my money
I lost that chance at graduate school
But, even at death’s door
I made sure my cat kept getting fed

I am an epileptic
I gradually carved out a life
Through grace
Rebuilding my body
Recovering from years of depression

I finally went to graduate school
But it was nowhere prestigious
And it was in Statistics, not Philosophy
But I used that to become an actuary

I have a wonderful job
I work at a place that genuinely cares
About its customers
And employees
And the community at large
As well as shareholders

So, I missed out on my dream
Through illness, depression, near-suicide

But recovered to one day
Fall in love
Have a family
Find a rewarding career

And write about it


I would still rather not have seizures


(“The Life I Could Have Had” – 3/26/2015)