Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Letter To My Prospective Therapist

Dear Judith,

Here's what I did on summer vacation.

I pretty much ruined someone's life.

Well, that says it all, I think. Details,
Though, are what you will want.

So, I met this truly lovely woman.
And on the internet! - she wrote to me!
Friend of hers knew me, told her to write me.
She was so brave. Told me all about her writing.

I didn't know what to make of her.
She was planning to visit my town
To meet our mutual friend's plane,
So I phoned her to discuss the plan.
I wanted to meet him with her, I said.
We started talking, I found I liked her
For her warmth, her being "a friend to man."

We talked everyday on the phone.
Our friend's plans did not work out.
He was too busy, he never did visit.
Meanwhile we sent e-mails by dozens,
She phoned me every day at work.
I phoned every night when I got home.
We talked and wrote all through July.
Finally, I said I had to visit her.

Could she put me up on the living room couch?
She trustingly, but carefully, assented.
I could visit, but her place was tiny.
August, her upstairs rooms would be an oven.
I said I would just cope with her little place.
We'd go out, she said, do outdoor things.
The beach at Lake Ontario, bike trails.

We wrote and phoned for another week.
We started to sense we were in love.
She sent me a photo of herself. Beautiful.

I must say she looked brave, and yet afraid.
That photo broke my heart, I quailed at going.
But I set out in my car across the state.
We had tea and crackers in her little kitchen.
I joked about her "Hobbit habitation."

We went out for Asian food at India House.
She so delicately had me serve her food.
We talked about everything we'd been saying
In e-mailed letters and late night calls.
We fell in love in person. I fell in love.

We spent the next three weeks together.
I joked we should alert The Guinness Book.
The World's Record Longest Date!
(Which included sensationally long kisses!)
After my few days' stay, she came with me
And lived in my house, while I went to work.

Finally, the end of August, she had to go.
She had to resume her "gradual school,"
Another joke, an allusion to "Garp:"
She's "gradually studying everything."

Still we saw each other. I drove to her
On my days off. She came to me by train
When weekly seminars concluded.

She met my son. I met her mother.
I met her friends, Lynda, Mike and Cindy.
I met her neighbors, Rachel and Ethan.
I met her landlady, Donna? Bonnie? I forget.

So then I decided I needed to move close.
I got a job in her town with much inquiry.
I rented a big house, over the phone!
I showed up at midnight, all I owned
In a UHaul truck, and my car in tow.

We entered soon a new phase of the moon.
And this is where you come in, Dear Judith.

We were no longer "seeing each other."
We were living together in my new place.
There's an art to living together, yes?
And it must be said, I haven't learned it.
I wasn't bad at whispering sweetnesses
Under the glow of the bedroom skylights.
(To hear her tell it then, I was a great lover.
I take no credit. She's a great responder.)

But after a long day at the strange new job,
Or an anxious slog though my mounting bills,
I wasn't exactly, well, Mr. Sensitive.
The romance started to grow paler.
I got moody, preoccupied with worry.

We were still frantically trying to get high,
Trying to get high on her, on me, each day.
Trying to get just as high the next day too.
We didn't create ways to pause, take time,
To take moments for ourselves, and get away.

Our mutual friend said our love was like a rocket
That rose straight up to the sky and kept rising.

One horrible day we'd had a skirmish
Over comments I'd made unthinkingly.
She'd brooded about it all day, I could tell.

When I came home I sensed her icy reserve.
I tried with all my wits to resolve things,
But we ended up in bitter arguments,
And I told her, "Shut up!" I told her, "Leave!"
I hurt her. I scared her with my anger.
I bellowed, "Just shut the fuck up!"
The rocket, still rising, exploded into pieces.

I have not seen my blue-eyed angel since.
She refuses to answer when I call.
Judith, tell me, what can I do?
How do I tell her I did not know
I was causing fear in her brave heart?

The summer is over and I'm still here
On the chilly shores of Ontario.
Soon I will see its legendary snows.
They'll be blowing in off Erie too.

I haven't a friend to tell this to.
Tell me, Judith, what to do.

Tell her you can perform miracles
In therapy. You can perform, indeed,
A personality transplant on this curmudgeon, me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


In your face
I see my face.

In your felicitous grininng
I see that I've done well.

In your head thrown back,
That I've made you laugh.

In your lightning blue eyes,
That I've accelerated you,
Your wishes and dreams,
With my full of shit brown.

In your serenity,
My acceptance of your folly
And my own.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Lung Function

My father's lungs,
when it came to the end,
were a ragged glory,
a failed flag above
a defeated fortress.

Just sitting in that chair,
he breathed like a runner
running up hills,
but he could not keep up
with his inner runner.

He breathed his last
when every inner runner
in every cell in his body
collapsed and sagged at once.

A flag that can find no wind
is wrapped in a cloth, buried.

A pale, perspiring runner
sets out in the ghastly dawn
to alert overweening battalions
bristling with armaments
in the rear positions.

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