bitter wine, long version
i was unsure of myself,
and the first kiss came late,
and it was chaste. since then, many kisses,
but none so sweet as the first,
until my north country girl.
prospero said We are such stuff
As dreams are made on,
and who am i to argue? we are.
how long does such stuff last
when it fails to sate? dreams are
the stuff which is redeemed as compensation
for being good, the unsated's reward.
i live on possibilities
that have no chance of being realized.
my grandfather, my non-gardening grandfather,
found himself living a life he never imagined,
forced by circumstances to be a hard case,
i guess that's where i get it, lawrence, —
finding himself on the road three or four
days a week, selling, drinking, who knows what all.
when he came home he drank out of habit
or to sooth his nerves, and to put up with a wife
and family that he loved but understood
about as well as he understood nappies
and infant formula and parent-teacher conferences.
which was nil. he had a generous nature,
a world of friends. they all seemed to need
a little extra help, a something to get them through
the tough times, and he always came through.
you should have seen his funeral, packed it was.
the one place he could let down was on a fishing boat
in baja, or fly-fishing on a river in iceland for salmon,
but at home, he was in a knot, and lord help
the one in his path when he unleashed himself.
we speculated that it was his childhood,
a nightmare which must have stayed with him
through his waking hours, until, even after
it was forgotten, almost, it was the essence of him.
Aggressive, more aggressive than any other man
i've known, or may know, and he knew it,
and it haunted him when his children recoiled.
but he was there when the hard times came,
he came through adversity, others, in a big way,
and i think it was all he needed, a chance
to redeem himself, and he did. his children
talk of him as a phenomena they survived,
but they loved him, and, in truth, admired him,
for in the end he was there for them, and left
a legacy, and they knew that no other father
cut a swath so wide, so deep, with so much wreckage
in its wake, and still came through as husband
and father, unswerving, dedicated, confused
by the niceties, but there, doing his best,
in his own furious way. Given the raw material
of his childhood, he remade himself
in the image of men he admired, and in contempt
and loathing for his own father, a weak man,
so he, my grandfather, fought his way
to school every day, picking fights if he had to,
a skinny kid in a tough world, and it made him tough,
that, and fighting japs, as a gunnery officer
on the u.s.s. yorktown at the age of nineteen,
a skinny, hard-drinking kid in over-sized khakis,
and little yellow men shooting at him. the niceties
made little sense to him after that. he was
from the south and a bigot nonpareil,
and it extended widely, his vituperations
made our blood run cold, but he was raised
by a black woman whom he loved, and a black woman
cooked his breakfast every morning, and he loved her,
and when his granddaughter married a black man
he came through, and stood and a made a toast
wishing them a long and happy marriage,
and he meant it, he only needed that chance, again,
to redeem himself. and he did, and if that wasn’t,
or isn’t, enough to redeem him, if his sins
were too unforgivable, i won’t be the one to say so.
what can you do with damaged goods, but
wait and hope, and don't judge too harshly?
i have dreams, too.
i want to be held, sometimes
i don't care by whom.
i dream of lying in someone's arms,
listening to quiet words,
feeling soothing touches, a hand
stroking my hair,
that, more than anything, is what i want.
i love terri, but that isn't her.
is it my north country girl?
i'll never know, which is why
i taste bitter wine.
i have seminar tonight, and it's already late.
i have to get going.
no time for loving, or running, barely time
for coffee, and though i'm steeped
in this reverie of can'ts and won'ts and woe is me,
i'm feeling randy, and i'd give a lot
to have a hour with terri
and i don't care who knows it, though
being the quiet type, no one will know it.
han shan said the peach would pass the summer blooming,
but wind and moon cannot wait.
that's me, out the door. maybe i can distill this into a poem later.
Poetry by one trick pony
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Written on 2015-03-31 at 14:55
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