When my grandmother forgot how
to brush her hair and twist it into a bun
my grandfather combed her hair.
Once he said it was red like fire.
When my grandmother remembered
yesterday and lost today
my grandfather spread photos
on their claw footed dining room table.
They revisited the past,
a tableau of scenes.
Once he said we fished
for silver bream in the Don River.
For a year my grandmother forgot
and my grandfather remembered.
Day after day they returned
to Russian words.
Ya tebya lyublyu, he said.
I love you.
Poetic Asides prompt*
I admit to an addiction
to arcane words and
convoluted play on words.
Once I adopted the word obrumpent
and promised to use it once a day,
to cleanse it of tarnish and rust.
After two days of seeking where to
add an adjective meaning bursting
and thinking that balloons might work
and soap bubbles and bubble gum
I simply ran out of places without
losing a sense of decorum.
Poetic Asides prompt
Do I want the lobster salad
or the broiled fish? How about the scallops
in olive oil and garlic, sopping, drenched
with the taste of Italy where I ate
fried calamari in an outdoor cafe
and drank chianti while discussing Dante
until desert obliterated all talk.
Poetry Asides prompt
The Trouble With Nostalgia
Hang in the past and you miss the now
while hankering for what happened.
Recalling isn't the same as lamenting
for what went before, nostalgia is bittersweet--
makes one add layers to a memory,
a pastiche of sentiments, shadows.
Nostalgia can be a noose, a rope, a place
where warts disappear and store bought
glitter covers yesterday. Plaintive glances
behind close the blinds on today.
Poetic Asides prompt
My father wore a black glove to hit a black ball
against a concrete wall. Open handball where the ball
richocheted faster than the speed of light and the men
met on Saturday morning to continue the game
begun the week before when Gus and Phil
won for "the first time" my father said.
I watched them run back and forth
jockeying for position, for the right to be
the winners for a week.
"Old men, " the teen jocks yelled, " want a challenge?"
I remember my father and Gus
taking them up. They played the jocks
back and forth to win points- with slices, fist balls,
It's fun doing the dishes,
even emptying the garbage
or discussing mysteries
or wrangling over eschatology
or whether the Red Sox pitching
will right itself before it's too late—
or succumbing to yet another frozen yogurt
or hiking in Maine and scanning the earth
for polypores, for sheep laurel
or saying love you
before sleep takes over
He flings the paper from the end of the walkway
with a a single movement the way he once
threw a discus. It lands in the grass. I put on a hat
to cover my sleep tossed hair and walk outside.
A sweatshirt, baggy pants and sandals
make me presentable for another neighbor
retrieving a paper. We nod. It's too early
to discuss the fate of the world or whether
the new crossword editor has resorted
to arcane words and convoluted play on words.
I glance at the front page and note that
later I'll read about bike couriers making a comeback.
It's a good morning.
Art hurts. Art urges voyages -
and it is easier to stay at home.
Remember painting a tree, grass and a sun?
Sun spikes surrounded a red-orange ball
twice the size of the tree top. I remember
painting purple leaves and yellow flowers
shaped like tulips, or teacups on sticks.
Later on I discovered that teacups have handles
and flowers have petals and it's hard to draw
a teacup that stays on the table and doesn't float
through the air or a flower that looks like itself.
Remember when only you knew what was on the paper
She sat talking to the social worker,
explaining how she first began
collecting hubcaps, then how she
visited junk yards where old cars
without tires rusted away. She brought home
fenders and bumpers, steering wheels
and shattered lights. At first, she said,
everything had a place. A collection
needs organization—hubcaps in the kitchen,
bumpers under the bed, steering wheels in the closet.
But you know, she said, when I began to
separate the foreign and domestic I ran out of space.
That's how the bathtub held shattered lights.
The social worker explained with the patience
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