Bob’s Poem

Bob, Did you write this for me? RIP……..

acoa

I grew up alone
stayed out as long as I could as a kid
or hid, hoping to avoid the terrorists in the kitchen
who highjacked my childhood and held it hostage
for endless payments of alertness and responsibility

I grew up scared
listening to Jekyl and Hyde take hate for a ride
during nightly explosions, screaming their
sound and fury while I cowered under blankets
signifying nothing

I grew up quickly
while parental disapproval sifted down like Agent Orange
defoliating the 100 Acre Wood and Sherwood Forests
of my imagination until Maid Marion got a gig
as a cocktail waitress and Winnie the Pooh would
stop for a brew on his way home from the factory

I grew up suspicious
practiced in the art of reading vocal inflection
and facial expression, expert at tracking emotional erosion
in poke faces, proficient at staying just beyond reach
of my father’s backhand, my mother’s manipulation

I grew up functional
sweeping broken glass from morning-after floors
patching up doors slammed in punctuation the night before
being useful, being useful, covering up reality,
keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut,
appeasing the angry gods of my volcanic family

I grew up practical
watching predators pounce on dreams, lunging and snapping
visionary necks on streets of maturity littered with the
corpses of fantasies, and so I learned to put up a front
like a neon sign in a package store window:
splotches of color, splashes of light
siren songs in a lonely night

I grew up sweating
in minimum-wage neighborhoods
where men gambled, drank and fought
cars got burned and votes got bought
where women compared notes over sweatshop lunches
looked for sales and rolled with the punches

I grew up compulsive
with a genetic attraction to the anesthetic properties of alcohol
since life is blues and dues are simply what we pay
since love might be just one stool away
and if relationships fail, I could always steer
for oblivion

I grew up hangin’ out
on corers, in poolhalls and clubs
with romantic loners and losers with ambition
bookies, B&E artists, ex-cons, hookers, musicians
in neighborhoods where the only cats with a vision of the future
rode towards it in hot-wired cars, and if silence was golden
I grew up with the Midas touch

And yet here I am
trying to extend my emotional range
struggling now with risk and change
new tricks to learn, old bridges to burn
exploring gender and re-scoring the soundtrack of my life

Still here
with my fragile belief in the miracle of laughter
the possibility of love
the breaking of silence
the healing of wounds

So I’ll sing a song of freedom
The best way I know how
Become aware of who I am
And feel it here and now.

Eating in Warsaw 101

How to have brunch in the “Paris of the East” in post Communist Poland. Or maybe it’s post capitalist.
We meet up at our favorite café at 12:30. Too late for breakfast, too early for lunch. A perfect time. No people, we thought. We walk up to the counter to read a sign that says, “Closed for a technical break”.
“What the hell does that mean?” I ask.
“It means we’re so busy that we can’t keep up so decided to close for 20 minutes. Maybe more.”
Hey, I wish I could try that excuse at work, don’t you? Interestingly, I’ve seen a lot more people at other times and it never “closed”.
Or how about this one at a Thai takeout just next door coincidentally, a couple of weeks ago. I finally got my order after waiting 30 minutes and I asked what took them so long. He said there were a lot of people. I looked around and counted 8. When I invited him to count along with me, he shrugged and walked away. Is it a coincidence that both of these people are in their early 20s?
Yeah, maybe it is post capitalist. That’s all folks! It’s back to the future!
HOW IT USED TO BE
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