IN THEIR SHOES

Step by step, the journey begins. Strangers at this writing, but I know
the struggles you encounter are many. If any woman or man
insists they are aware, when they’ve never been there, well, I’m sorry.
Your story well neglected, should be projected for the world
to see. There may be bleeding hearts, but that never solves your plight.
It would be right for them to learn…

You are the young widowed mother who just learned
her heroic husband killed in Afghanistan, will never know
the child you bears. You stare at a photograph; it lightens
your heart, but you start to cry, not knowing why the man
who meant everything to you, was taken. He had given much to the world
without so much as a “Thank you” to him, or to you, an “I’m Sorry!”

You are the seasoned Grandfather sitting near the window, your sorry
existence in the nursing home has left you alone and scared. It was learned
your Alzheimer’s Disease has advanced and your family and your world
are non-existent memories. Gazing blankly at things you once knew
makes no impression. And your depression grows. You’ve become that man
who dimly sits where once your presence provided great light.

You are the bullied young teen, sitting in a light-less
room. Your struggle with your life corrodes internally. You are sorry
to be a “burden”. You hate that you are such an easy mark. You are a young man
unsure of his sexuality and searching for an identity. You hope to learn
that people are forgiving and understanding, if they only knew
that you were a rash decision away from leaving this world.

You are the woman who sits huddled with her young children whose world
came crashing down around them. You have nowhere to stay. Your only light
shines from the street lamp outside the city mission. You know
your condition plays out nationwide, but you hide your pride, sorry
you cannot provide what your kids need. You wish you could learn
of a way to step out of your destitution. You are a battered, broken woman.

So, before fingers point or hushed whispers glare, be there. Be the kind of woman or man
who takes the plight of the world
to your heart. It is only when we start to learn
of their wants and needs that we will indeed be the beacon bright, the light
that will show them that they are not forgotten. They should not apologize; not be sorry
that life has handed them an unplayable hand. In remembering them, they’ll know.

Know your fellow man.
This world belongs to all who possess it, no one should be sorry his or her lives shine less bright.
Learn to love as you have been loved. Help change their plight. Walk that mile.

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MY BEARD NO LONGER SCRATCHES

I’m growing a beard.
Always wanted one; it is an afront to you.
Your fair-haired boy stands determined,
yearning to be free from the tyranny
of your iron fist. The last time we kissed
my face was clean and you leaned in
for more and more. But now, I just
let it grow. I know you hate it. I feel your burn.
I yearn for the taste of you, but I am not
through with my adventure. My beard
no longer scratches. It matches your heart,
there, but unfeeling. It never replaced the
face that was here before the hair.
Now, I care about it more than you.

CONCRETE TOWERS: THE SHADOW OF MEMORY

                             I
                             t
                            w
                             a
                             s
                Late summer in                  NY. A day like
                any other;  New                  Yorkers   loved
                days such as th                    ese.  The   sky
                was clear; the air                was crisp  and
                life went on as it                 usually did.Taxi
                cabs jammed in                  traffic, and some
                commuters were                too. Pedestrians
                on the pavement                heading to  their
                nine-to-5 enslave               ment. A sense of
                urgency had gone              unnoticed but that
                was business  as                  it usually was. Men
                and Women head               ed to work, or to
                drop the children               off at daycare. Today
                is September 11th              2001 and all is right
                with the world. The            sun rises, casting
                the Statue of Liberty          in  seductive  and
                glorious silhouette;             a shadowed sentinel
                set in the harbor to              greet all travelers to
                the “Land of the Free”.       Like those folks on
                that inbound jet and         others like it. It holds
  the hopes and dreams of all aboard, as it does for all below. The airplane’s
 shadow is cast ominously across the expanse of concrete, metal and glass;
a close pass to the constructed mountains above. Most unusual on this usual
day. Nothing changes on usual days. Usually, but not today late summer in NY.

MORNING MISTS REMIND ME

 
The sun, not yet awake;
me, slightly more as I sit sipping.
Another morning begins like every other.
Dark. Silent. Lacking motivation, 
a sensation I share this early. 
Dressing for the job, just another slob 
in a nine-to-five hole; my soul
sold long ago for an escape from seclusion. 
The illusion of this dawning comes
with no warning necessary. 
I tarry a moment longer, bracing 
for the moment for which my heart longs. 
It is strong, this urging; this poetic purging 
of thoughts buried deep within. It is a sin
that I need reminding. But before 
the blinding sun peeks above the horizon, 
my eyes see through the morning mist.
And I think of you. In the shadows of the trees,
a silhouette lives and lingers. Fingers outstretched 
and reaching; beseeching me to return.
I yearn for these moments, long buried,
as are you. Moist and enveloping, developing
contact with every inch of skin exposed.
I am deposed and rendered immobile.
Your eyes, tear filled and vacant, had pierced me,
pleading for a last longing look before death
took your love and replaced it with 
these thoughts and memories. Your eyes,
moist and enveloping, drench my spirit
and I hear it in the rustling wind
running its cool fingers through these branches.
It enhances my morning. The sun begins to illuminate
and I wait for it to show its face.
There is a trace of you in it as well.
I can tell by the smile it brings me.
It stings me sweetly, completely
filling my day with the beauty it espouses.
It houses these feelings that languish within morning mists. 
And so I am reminded. Morning mists remind me of you.

SECRETS BEST KEPT?

No one knows.
And the best kept secret remains as such.
How much is it worth to know things
that your heart can confirm,
but you can not communicate,
this declaration of fact lies hidden.
Distance spanned and water
under the bridge between then and now.
How do you live a life with this burden?
She couldn’t know; you gave no indications,
your stagnation and debilitating fear
brought you here with nary a lead.
But indeed, you have known.
You will carry it until you’ll have grown
feeble and cold, just an infarction from
the chill’s permanence; it hides in residence.
Do you declare to the world and hope the rooftops
can handle your exuberance, your happy dance long buried?
This poetic prompt brings you to wonder
that if under this guise you can reprise
what your heart conceals; the real feel of its mystery,
your history until now untold and you let the story unfold.
The question is posed; “Did you have a high school crush?”
Touching secrets with probing fingers, the memory lingers.
You held the best vantage point in the room to see all before you,
a chance at a glance always revealed her lilting smile
and her warm Serbian eyes; your soul cries
at the top of it’s lungs, but your unsung song
has kept her anonymity. Though your proximity was close,
you chose to let fear dictate, sealing your fate.
Never a clue did you expose. You chose to fade,
finding comfort in invisibility. Indignantly you proclaim,
“What purpose would this knowledge serve?”
You have held your nerve and your secret this long.
It can’t be wrong to release your burden and breathe again.
She couldn’t know.
Unseen for thirty-two years, no one knows.
You wonder if your existence evaded her detection then.
You are certain that it does now.
Unseen for thirty-two years, she couldn’t know.
You are prompted to think of her and how you felt.
Your memories melt flowing onto this page as you engage your feelings.
A poem gets written of your smitten past, and at last you come clean.
I mean, really, it’s not as if this poem will ever be seen.

POET’S NOTE – A response to a poetic nudge five years ago that I saw as ridiculous and unnecessary. But for some reason I relented and presented what lay hidden, fondly. Time and distance can surprise and sometimes re-introduce warm Serbian eyes and lilting smiles. She didn’t know. Those memories stay with you. Writers feed on their marrow. Histories come full circle..

SHE CAME IN THROUGH THE BATHROOM WINDOW

(Maybe I Should Have Left Her The Key?)

All my toiletries strewn about,
my deodorant in the “soup”,
Roll of tissues all unfurled.

My towel bar was ripped right out,
my shower curtain torn,
my hamper upturned with my undies asunder.

My nosy old neighbor not minding her own
was the reason authorities came to my home,
A frantic call for extradition and bail.

You didn’t speak to me for weeks,
even though your passage is assured.
Next time check the welcome mat, avoiding time in jail.

YOU’VE GOT TO HIDE YOUR LOVE AWAY

(Maybe I Shouldn’t Wear My Heart on my Sleeve)

Just a hopeless romantic;
a fool with a heart,
going through life
with this need to be loved.
A minstrel of love songs,
a purveyor of mirth,
a reason to rhyme,
waxing poetic and often ,
hoping to soften the blows
of a misguided emotion,
lost in devotion to one so fair.
In my eyes, a vision,
a purposeful wanting,
desires unfolding,
in scope and breadth.
The vacancy sign
worn like a badge
high on my shoulder,
an advertisement.
A prurient “want” ad
reading as such:
“Hopeless romantic,
a fool with a heart,
looking for same.
No need to reply,
I’ll know by your sign.
Worn on your sleeve,
the same as mine”

I’M LOOKING THROUGH YOU

(Maybe I Shouldn’t Have Bought These X-Ray Glasses)

There it is.
In back of the
Superman comic book
I revered as a boy.

Next to the prize catalog.
Under the advice about
handling bullies on the beach.
Joe Wieder you steered me wrong.

Arriving in a manila envelope,
shrouded in secrecy, a sworn oath
to myself that neither my mother nor brothers
would ever know of my hidden “powers”,

a fantastic ability to see through clothes.
I never wore them in the house
just in case my mother or sisters
might cross paths with my enhanced vision

and I end up in therapy for the rest of
my natural life. Countless hours standing
at the back fence staring down
the neighbor’s daughter as we both

wrestled with pre-pubescence
(all the while, dreaming of wrestling with her).
An afternoon shot and not a stitch of fabric
had left her developing form.

I was no longer hot and bothered.
Damn, I wasn’t even warm.
Out a couple buck plus postage.
I should have seen that coming,

but my x-ray eyes failed me.
Joe Wieder, what’s your spiel again?