I’ve finally gotten around to redoing my first poetry chapbook collection, “WOOD”.
Nicely bound with a slick new cover and an added introduction, I am satisfied with the results. This second printing blends in nicely with the rest of the collection. Just like Dad, it felt good to rework (refinish) “Wood”.
Now, the companion follow-up “Return to Wood” makes a bit more sense.
Tarnished and dented; a bauble of a bygone day. In a wooden cigar box; keepsakes both, with little more function than that. The stem fused to the casing, the workings have retired. But,
it has inspired me to find the link. The contents of the box play like a road map; clues to unravel the mystery that is my history. The key, worn and encrusted with years of dirt and oils from feeble fingers.
It lingers in my hand for a moment, its uncertainty secured. Papers, folded and bound with a frail rubber band line the bottom of the box. A visa document, possibly a first issue wrapped in a tissue to protect
what it meant to an old Polish immigrant determined to become all that America had to offer. Naturalization documents, meant to pronounce his acceptance of a lifestyle long sought, and their acceptance of him
as one of the free and brave. The camera buried amongst the treasures, bellows cracked and torn, a forlorn instrument with which a part of his life had been preserved. It all deserved a better fate, but it is too late to shed
a single tear from your eyes for its demise. The puzzle is splayed before you, the detective of your past. A torn swatch of a fabric, hues faded but shades of blue and red and white pressed between pages.
Finally, one last piece remains. A photograph. a dark and handsome young man; heavy jacket and a fedora pulled down across the brow. Intermingled with other similar folk unconcerned for their purpose.
But the subject stands tall. Proud. Posed to save this moment in memory, and upon this daguerreotype for long after. In the background, Lady Liberty stands strong. In his hand an American flag clutched to his chest.
A chain from buttonhole to vest pockets and a key as a fob, a cinch to keep his pride from bursting. It insinuates the only part missing was the watch that sat tucked close to his left hand. A trinket; a remembrance
of the father he had left behind in Igolomia, Poland to claim his dream. It remains strong in your own heart as the box that holds your Great-Grandfather’s declaration secure. You are sure the timepiece marked his life as well as your own.
Symptoms came to the fore
knocking me to the floor. A knee
and a supplicant plea
were all that made me see the pain
wasn’t just in my brain,
but it did leave me drained and scared.
If I had only dared,
then I might have been spared this fate.
And it’s never too late
(or so they say). I wait for word,
but so far all I’ve heard’s
something a little bird told me.
Right now it’s wait and see
what this next biopsy will show.
The process is so slow
as far as these things go. Can’t wait
(I hope we’re not too late).
My elbows hurt. Years of swinging a heavy framing hammer takes its toll. Just like my father, the first thing to go. To extol the virtues of hard work hardly works for one bred and raised into it. A good fit for a blue collar guy. Big plans and ideas; a mental diarhea that clouds the here and now. How did I not see it before? Sure, I’m enough of my own man to matter, and still enough of my old man to not care. Where do I draw the line? It is a fine line at that, and that begins the tale. The travails of this life, rife with pitfalls and victories are visited upon the son; the one most like the man he aspired to be. My shuffle is more deliberate. My vision waning. My voice, still strong on paper dissapates like vapor when I speak. I seek approval to verify my insecurities. The purity of thought and deed in need of a boost. No better place to roost than in his shoes. These blues sound better with a strong drumbeat; a sweet syncopation to drive this transformation homeward. The signs are tell-tale. The change is nearly complete. I mailed my registration to AARP today. All for a six dollar savings on a safe driving course, to get me a ten percent discount on insurance rates. I am becoming my Father. My elbows hurt.
Fighting a battle often lost in the darkness of a weary mind. There is no rest there. Cursing the single candle lit to offer its illumination; to infiltrate this mental stagnation. Accursed slumber why do you wage against my will? Will you release me like the leaves of October’s colorful flurry, left to scatter in the cool winds from place to place; a migration to discover the peace that I crave. You have found me, October. You have extended your lifeline in fine fashion, a saving assist for one clamoring for control over heart and soul, over heart and mind. I clutch your hand as I am flung over the edge of reason. Your season is here. You want me near, October, where I belong. Anything else would be just wrong.
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.