Hold Me Like You’ll Never Let Me Go

 

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There was no one else in the bar except for Max, my dad and me. John Denver was breaking my heart singing about leaving on a jet plane. The way his voice rose when he sang about leaving and not knowing when he’d be back again. That last kiss. First it was the kiss but as I got older it was the smile.

I was 6 years old and sitting at the bar in Max’s Village Inn and couldn’t wait for the day my feet finally touched the floor. Growing up is all about the up. It was 9 am on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc., you get the idea. I was finishing my breakfast of Swanson grilled cheese and a side of Planter’s peanuts with a glass of Coca-Cola. I had put the sandwich in the toaster oven, pulled the coke, and grabbed the peanuts all by myself. Told Max, put it on my tab, OK, Mutt, he said. Big spender.

A growing boy like me needed his energy to play pool and electronic shuffle board against his old man and now there was this thing called Pong. Christ, we were like the fucking marines getting more shit done before 9 am or whatever the hell time it was the marines got shit done. My dad was in the army back in Korea. That’s where he fucked up his leg though he never really said how. He told me about shooting empty beer cans on a frozen lake with his buddy from California, about how much he liked eating soba noodles from the street vendors in Tokyo (so much he made up a song “Soba Soba so vely vely good to me”) and about a party for all these newly released ex-Red Chinese POW’s including his older brother and how the poor bastards hadn’t any pussy or booze in years and went so fucking nuts at the sight of the geishas they started fighting and throwing shit around that the MP’s closed it down in fifteen minutes.

He always said the jarheads were all fucking gung-ho nutjobs, the Air Force guys sat around all day and the navy guys were just plain pussies. Since we shuttled between Max’s and the VFW most every adult I knew was a veteran.

I asked Max, Did you serve?

Coast Guard, he said.

Jewish Navy, my dad added with a laugh knocking back a shot of Crown Royal, Not one Jap sub got within 3,000 miles of Philadelphia with Max on watch. Then he went off to take a piss.

Not anything against your dad but Jewish Navy, meh, look at me, I got all my limbs, brains and don’t walk with a limp. If you got a go, go there.

Fuck that I thought to myself, I’m going to play second base for the Phillies.

I looked at my dad’s drinks, his cigarettes, some nickels and dimes, the lighter from Atlantic City with an embossed dollar sign on it that never worked well but he kept using because I got it for him. The only times he had been on an airplane was when they shipped him home and he got waylaid at a psych ward in Hawaii and then flown back to PA. He was on a stretcher or in a wheelchair most of the time so he couldn’t even go outside in Hawaii. It wasn’t even a state then he used to say.

I watched him walk out of the can and back to his seat. A slow steady limp. Rising and falling. Like a piston on an old, tired engine always thirsty but always a few quarts low. Seasons in the Sun started playing on the jukebox. I had selected it.  

Jesus Christ I said out loud and grabbed my dad’s Pall Malls and started to tap one out, who plays this depressing shit?

Easy, my dad said, Watch your mouth, and took the butt from my lips. I spit a little bit of tobacco from the tip of my tongue. Puh.

There was no one else in the bar except for Max, my dad and me.

 

Living on the Bus-Line

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I went down to the crossroads

To catch a cross-town bus.

There was swinging with great violence

In a benevolent cacophony.

 

But the empty pleading eyes

And the emptier pleading hands

Only seemed to say sadly

You have to sit through the whole presentation

 

In order to get a round-trip ticket.

But there’s coffee and doughnuts.

Except the coffee’s bad

And the doughnuts were gone by 9.

 

Wetting the tip of my pencil to gauge the wind

I remembered an ember can travel miles

Before being extinguished so I asked my neighbor,

Hey buddy, you got a cigarette?

Communicable Discourses

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Where do you even begin

With half this shit  –

The precipice or the bucket?

We speak in clichés

 

As they’re easier to understand

Like the TV hanging on the wall.

(I crawled out that window once

And never came back)

 

Do you remember

When we weren’t so obscure

Back then? Our mothers laid

Our clothes out for us each morning

 

And we only knew the names of

The things we knew the names of

Like bread, blood, bone.

Now everything is a text

 

And I need an interpreter,

A dictionary, a health plan

And a bigger bucket.

A much bigger bucket.

Redolent Glory

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The chemtrails are beautiful today

Like an Abolitionist’s tears

Upon learning hegemony has been institutionalized

By a constitutional amendment: grand indeed.

 

The sad sickening sucking sound

You heard was the farm fresh eggs.

I’m sorry, I used to bag down at the Acme in high school.

My tools are leaving me. Still that dent

 

Can get pounded out. I just need

A common household plunger, a ball-peen hammer,

Some crow’s feet and a smoker’s cough.

Oh, and prayers. Lots of prayers.

 

Don’t worry, though, tune in tonight

When The Dictator hands you the keys

To your BRAND NEW CAR!

It travels on wishes and ice cream.

 

And by the way the Inspector would like a word

With you before you transmigrate.

Lately, he’s been feel super-sized and nonplussed

So it may take a while.

 

Make yourself comfortable.

Can I get you anything?

Anything at all?

Within reason?

If A Poet Dies Does He Make A Sound?

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Oh, did you hear?

L the poet died.

No, feigned mourning,

I hadn’t.

 

Quick,

Fire up the laptop,

Gas up the time machine,

Dog-ear the Bible.

 

Sigh, They’re all dying

To the click-clack of the keyboard,

To the swipes of approval

Or disapproval.

 

In a Democracy everyone gets to Heaven.

Once there you can rate it:

0 being worst and 5 being best.

In an Oligarchy it’s pay-to-play.

 

We still get to write our review

But only from the vestibule,

And, of course, no one reads it.

Like L’s poetry.