WHEN WE WAS COOL

One Christmas our parents bought us a pool table. A family gift they said, but our sisters never got in the queue for the cue. But the neighbor kids did. We became the place to be, the hang out. We were “THE cool family.” A quarter a game and the friends came with their paper route money or their lawn mowing cash to play. Some had an allowance (but only briefly). Our plan was to use the cash for improvements on the table and supplies. Better cue sticks, billiard balls (which chipped regularly from flying over the edge to the concrete floor below) and we would split the remaining money (according to our older brother’s suspect math and sense of fairness!)

Standard 8-Ball was the fare until the knucklehead down the street discovered 9-Ball. The games went quicker, he said. We could play for…something, he said. He was slicker at it than the rest of us and he’d get the best of us every time. The lot of us grew tired of his hustle and suddenly Billiards didn’t fit into our day. We hardly ever played any more, but before that, there was a brief moment when we was cool.

We were entertained
by the games that we would play.
I would say that’s cool!

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

Poetic Asides April Poem-A-Day Challenge – Day #19: “Cool/Uncool poems”

MEMOIR OF ME AT THREE

I was a clumsy kid and I always hid in out of the way places. I could be found atop of the refrigerator… in the pigeon coop… under the front porch… I carried a “torch” for the girl next door (she was much older) all of four. We’d have walks in the pram holding hands and sleeping together (under the trees in the park.) I recall being afraid of the dark. I loved my mom and dad. I had a sister and two brothers (with others in my future.) I got skinned knees and sutures. Certainly a silent sort, never resorting to words then when a good hand gesture would suffice. It was a very nice life for me when I remember me at three.

My youth seems to play
in the rafters of my mind,
finding comfort there.

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

BLACK AND BLUE: DOWN AND OUT TO THE BLUE DODGE

We played street football; two-hand touch. The players varied in age and stage of development. That meant the older guys dominated and the younger ones learned fast. But spritely little fireflies would run past bigger defenders and still avoid the fenders of cars parked along the curb. They called me “Bambi” because I made these fingertip catches like Alworth. Anything thrown here or there I would snare with ease. And since I could breeze past my older brother’s friends to the second telephone pole, it would usually end in six points.

But, I would learn the hard way (and I pay for it until this day!) Touch football games from pole to pole steal your soul when an errant pass thrown out of control comes your way. Not another kid alive would be so dumb as to take a dive to catch one thrown into the gravel. Sliding face first up the curb, abrasions and all, it was amazing I even hung onto the ball. “If you bruise, you lose!” my brother said. “Don’t feel bad, you could’ve been dead!” For some silly reason, it didn’t make me feel better as my bloodied nose made my shirt get redder and my two front teeth lay strewn on the street, (how can I function wiffouf my fwont teef?) But with my face battered and my tongue sticking through, I looked so raccoon with my face black and blue!

It is only fun
until somebody gets hurt
with a blood stained shirt.

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

Poetic Asides April Poem-A-Day Challenge 2016 – Day #12: “Serious/Silly”

CAMP CACTUS – ELLICOTTVILLE, N.Y.

A ramshackle cabin stuck in the sweeping hills, a hideaway of sorts. Not a resort by any stretch of any imagination. A destination for a few summers in the late sixties. “Cactus”, an old codger, the last bar stool at the local tavern; his place. His son, a friend of Dad’s invited. Bring the boys to fish and swim and hike in the hills.

The lake water was murky, the catfish were ugly and the incline was so steep it hurt your feet to think of venturing upward. Yet, we had a ball. The men folk drank and “stank” to high heaven. The boys pitched our tents and had adventures. The stars and moon illuminated and we were satiated on marshmallows and “Dogs”. Campfire and stories with all the gory details left in. Long gone, absorbed by sprawl, now a part of the ski resort that claimed her. Fond in memory, we had named her “Camp Cactus.”

Adventure filled us
with stories to tell, learning
where our hearts could lead.

(C) Walter J Wojtanik- 2016

Poetic Asides April Poem-A-Day Challenge – Day #9: “Hideaway”

MEMORIALS TO A BOYHOOD HOME

In the center of our yard a flower bed grew,
a garden of beauty brought fully into view,
and in the center of the plot a pole was planted,
straight and true and never slanted
until the iron rusted after dad had died.

As a boy, I tried to shinny skyward to the top
of the flagpole that marked our place. A space
where Old Glory’s banner proudly flew, a wave
of red and white and blue unfurled and true
to mark a sailor’s port and an immigrant’s station;

a symbol of a valiant nation honored in its way.
Today the pole is gone. Fallen by rusts’s voracious
appetite. The naturalized citizen who saluted in reverence
to the land of his preference has been laid to rest.
The proud chest of the sailor rises and falls no more

his ship moored in its silent shore, his dutiful chore
is done. The memory of these people and places
is etched, their faces tattooed on hearts and minds that
held them dear. All that remains here is this banner aloft
crisp and clean, flown to keep their memories alive!

(C) Walter J. Wojtanik, 2015

A Memorial Day and childhood memory written to Poetic Asides Prompt #306 – Childhood

SMOKE FROM A DISTANT FIRE

my grandfather’s cigar,
aromatic and sweet.
held between his teeth,
an added appendage,
a trademark of sort.
by all reports, the cause
of the blaze in his back room.
no doom befalling, quickly
calling the fire department,
a quick dousing as delousing.
smoky haze through heater vents
was tell-tale. Without fail,
he quit smoking in the house.

~Walter J. Wojtanik

Poetic Asides by Robert Lee Brewer – prompt 306: Childhood

DODY

She lived along the route to grade school,
and short walk or bike ride away.
To say we were friends would be
an assumption well made and yet
we were friendly adversaries none the less.
Little did she know that I had carried
a crush for her. But never her books!
“Carry your own damn books!” she’d smile.
Daily we’d walk home after class, she
and the dumb ass who had these feelings
that had him confused and reeling,
dealing with an unknown.
All these years later, she’s never known
but now we’re both full grown
and you can’t go home again!

~ Walter J. Wojtanik, 2015

Poetic Asides by Robert Lee Brewer – Prompt 306: Childhood Poem

GIRLS AND BOYS AND GULLS

I sit along the shore, mesmerized
by waves in their cyclical samba
rolling and trolling on the lake
of hopeful dreams. Screams of children
playing in the surf, scattering –
chattering in an endless drone
screeches and squeals, peels
of raucous running and splashing,
flashing sunshine from their gleeful
eyes. Skies, blue and reflective
subjected to the whimsy of wide-eyed
wonder under the spell of tides.
There comes a lull, children
amassed like seagulls, charging &
retreating. Bleating like sea birds,
indistinguishable in their spirit.
You can hear it in the children’s joy.

(C) Copyright Walter J Wojtanik – 2014

POETS UNITED – Midweek Motif – CHILDREN

BLACK AND BLUE

“If you bruise, you lose!” my brother said.
“Don’t feel bad, you could’ve been dead!”

For some silly reason, it didn’t make me feel better
as my bloodied nose made my shirt get redder

and my two front teeth strewn on the street,
(how can I function without my front teef?)

Touch football games from pole to pole
and an errant pass throw out of control

Not another kid alive would be so dumb
To take a dive to catch one thrown into the gravel.

Sliding face first up the curb, abrasions and all,
It’s amazing I even hung onto the ball.

But with my face battered and my tongue sticking through,
I looked so raccoon with my face black and blue!

© Copyright Walter J. Wojtanik – 2013

MIZ QUICKLY’S IMPROMPTU POETRY – Day 9: Color, Now!