BE – AN EPIPHANY

The lesson becomes this. You learn by living. And you hope you’re allowed to apply all of these lessons before your living ends. The nest is vacated as of late, not quite empty but that’s just semantics. The girls have ostensibly evacuated, leaving my wife and me to “fend for ourselves”. We do OK. I cook. She cleans. I repair and remodel. She washes and gardens. I nocturnally smash my head into furniture; she resumes a battle against her dreadful afflictions. But, we do OK. The battles used to be shared. We were mutual combatants in a strained union, dancing precariously on the precipice of a bottomless free-fall. Somehow, the feet always seemed to avoid that finality. You come to be a student of your own mistakes, taking what you can salvage and leaving the unnecessary flotsam for the plankton. The fate has been tickled and in the thick of it, remains our sanity. So we chose to dance; to cling to a life for the prescribed better or worse and try to nurse this wounded beast back to health (or some semblance thereof!) We had gotten into the habit of letting life slip by. But, our new discoveries dictate that if you do that long enough, you die without living (learning the lessons). That needed to be remedied. After all, I repair and remodel, so fixing covers it.

The truth lies in this lesson: love, deserved respect, and forgiveness all seem to be equally important. These make a life well lived. I had lost sight of the importance of the life I had been given. I tried to strive for “poetic perfection”, bucking the system; thinking myself above the “flock”. I went on this journey to find a “higher plane”, without realizing “I had already arrived”. The time wasted trying to honor and glorify my abilities, skewed my sense of priority; it almost destroyed me. I became what I had always been, a small grain of sand on a vast lake shore, a speck in the early evening sky.

My wife and I had come to find something we had lost or forgotten a while back: love, respect and forgiveness. And in the tenderness and embrace of this moment, I fell in love with my wife all over again! And the lesson becomes this. You learn by living. And you hope you’re allowed to apply all of these lessons before your living ends. Whatever happens in this life, that moment belongs to us.

© Walter J. Wojtanik

Offered at dVerse Poets Pub – MTB: Prose Poetry

OLD BLACK MEN OF A CERTAIN IMPORT

But mostly they would sit and watch the world go by.

Calvin Watkins had been around the circuit for a long time, playing the jazz clubs in Chicago, and Cleveland. He even made it back home to Buffalo to serve up his sweet trumpet sound at the Colored Musicians Club. He recalled the nights he had spent in the smoky dimness listening to the likes of Ellington and Basie, Ella and “Lady Day”. His big break came the night Art Blakey invited Calvin onto the platform to fill in for his horn player. Blakey picked him up for the tour, traveling down South on the “chitlin’ circuit”. Calvin had stories to tell, for sure.

But his biggest accomplishment came when he met up with William “Boney” Claxson, who along with Claxson’s cousin, Edwin James, formed the Calvin Watkins Trio. Three musicians steeped in the roots of jazz, tempered in the blues, and honored countrywide for their smooth and soulful sound. They didn’t just make music. In a way, they reinvented it!

Eventually, the sounds evolved in many ways. And the fifties started to toll the knell for musicians such as the trio. The small intimate clubs started to disappear, opting for larger venues. And people wanted to hear the “new music”. The rock and roll train was catching steam, and although having had its roots in old gospel, rhythm and blues, it steered away from its origin in many ways. 

The trio had a good run. But they had seen better days. Calvin still frequented the clubs that remained, resettling in Buffalo and the CMC. “Boney” joined him years later when James had been killed in a drive-by shooting while exiting the corner store. Edwin’s luck had run out as he clutched his lottery tickets, slumped on the pavement in a pool of his blood. He was dead before any response had been affected.

Calvin and “Boney” would sit on the bench outside of the club and reminisce. They traded stories about the great musicians they had known, and the clubs and the discrimination that they faced both as black men and musicians. They’d play their version of “Name That Tune”, whistling melodies from the day. But mostly they would sit and watch the world go by. And Calvin and Claxson never let a day go by when they would not pay homage to Edwin James and the talented men and women of the Colored Musicians Club. 

memories live on
“Brothers” who battled their age 
 what a time it was…

CLICK HERE FOR A HISTORY OF THE COLORED MUSICIANS CLUB

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

SEIZE THE DAY

Life is rife with important days, no one more important than the one we’re living in. And instead of giving in, we strive to survive. The days lately revolve around a big day a month away. My daughter’s wedding day. And while I’ll accompany her down the aisle, I’ll take a back seat and not compete; it is her day all the way. Proud and sad, this sappy old Dad is caught up in the preparations. Mom and I are full of elation and a touch of trepidation. But, we’ve done a decent job raising two fine daughters. And I ought to savor these times and tears. I’ll be doing this again in a few more years.

© Copyright Walter J. Wojtanik – 2013

For MIZ QUICKLY’S IMPROMPTU POETRY Day 20 – Prose Poem

NOT SO SWEET SUCCESS

Fragrances waft, a gentle meander, floral or woodsy in nature. It soothes the nose and masks unsavory things. But stench stumbles in like an inebriate drunkard who had soiled himself and his reputation; a sad mutation of the upstanding bastard he once claimed to be. Sullied was the air when the seal had been broken. No words were spoken with hands clamped across nasal passages and the message purveyed was one they had seen on more occasions then they cared to account. The numbers mount while teams sans smiles and enthusiasm teem in. Within the home left abandoned and presumed vacant when the owner, Mrs. Beedle was lowered to her rest. The best attempts to contact any family proved to be a futile exercise.

A wise man would have considered the case closed, but their noses were reticent to relinquish the odiferous lingering. Gloved hands carefully fingering along the blood stained walls. The silence was interrupted by the calls from the group investigating the back rooms of this devoid domicile. Confident men and women strode toward the sounds, but found themselves reeling in disgust and horror. They were unprepared. Seasoned veterans stood and stared at the heap of former humanity foisted into the plush rocking chair.

There sat the problem. The decayed remains of a woman slumped clumsily into the furniture. The lavender tatter that was draped across her shoulder disintegrated into powdery residue. The scent was a clue. There was a hint of bouquet the closer the Detectives came to the undone body. Hard and callus men were starting To lose composure. The closure sought for this decrepit soul seemed a long time coming.

And then, the humming.

An almost cheerful tune from the direction of the cellar door. What’s more, the accompanying footsteps fell in syncopation on the creaky boards. Guns drawn and a warning shouted. “Come out with your hands showing!” the cliché came. Another unnamed face peeked through to grace the room. A mid-age gentleman, fifty-ish, stepped forward from the doorway. “Aunt Ginny? You have visitors?” he creepily questioned the lifeless chair dweller. The man from the cellar, hands raised; a surrender unsure, came to stand next to the shell of the woman. His Aunt Ginny. Genevieve Beedle.

“How rude, Auntie”, he leered, “You didn’t offer your guests a spot of tea? Allow me.” Soiled hands clutched for the knob on the old stove, amidst protests and commands to desist. Erwin Beedle couldn’t resist being the “congenial” host. At most, he wasn’t going down alone. The range did not ignite as such. It was much more like an explosion.

New teams were dispatched to investigate the scene. The first thing they noticed was the smell. Fragrances waft, a gentle meander floral or woodsy in nature. It soothes the nose and masks unsavory things. But stench of dead and burnt flesh stumbles in like a demented and feeble minded “caregiver”. The surviving officers shiver when the subject is breeched. Erwin finally reached his pinnacle, of course. The cynical brute took half the force with him.

YESTERDAY LIKE TODAY

It’s funny how thoughts of the past cleave themselves to the present, flavoring every last savor of an idea with familiarity. Poems rewritten become new like a freshly woven thread through the old swatch of fabric. A cloth well-worn but still stylish. transplanting a smile laced with remembrance. In the final analysis we weave the old and new into an enhanced rumination that serves the ear and the eye. Why not leave well enough alone? It is shown in your history. An unraveled mystery and genealogy. We are all a re-written story. We are a tale of glory that spans a timeline of an infinite nature. Call it what you will, it still links the old with the new; the past and the present. Yesterday is today.