Friday, June 17, 2011

Poem #6-2011 (Wellsboro)


We used to wander the summer streets at night
our parents convinced we were having
a sleepover above Joe's garage
(or in Tommy's backyard)
which indeed is where we slept - eventually

Joe's parents would check on us toward "bedtime"
We would act dutifully sleepy or adolescently annoyed
to get them to leave without suspicion
After waiting the appropriate amount of time
we quietly slithered away down dimlit streets,
dressed in black and stealthily (or so we thought)
keeping to the shadows

In those innocent days, the grocery stores
had their baked goods and fruits
delivered in the middle of the night and left outside
- with no security at all!
We learned the delivery times
and we learned that they packed the sweeter offerings
(like Ring Dings, Yodels, and Twinkies)
under the neatly arranged loaves of bread

Watermelons were always fair game

One night another band of brigands
left a trail of rinds right to our encampment
(we always thought it was on purpose)
When we returned from our own foray
Sergeant Wilcox was waiting for us
Granted, we were guilty, but it was still an injustice
and I never could stand watermelon after that

Once we hatched a scheme to break into the huge empty
haunted mansion on the corner by the town park
But we never followed through on that one
Tommy returned one night
from a solo mission,
huge red stop sign in one hand and crescent wrench in the other
While we were duly impressed with his bravery,
I don't remember what he did with it

Fortunately, somewhere inside our quasi-delinquent brains
lurked enough common sense to distinguish
between youthful tomfoolery and true crime
We never even thought about stealing a car
but in retrospect I'm glad I never read
about Neal Cassady until much later in life

Forty-five years later
I sometimes walk around the house after dark,
pretending I'm someplace I shouldn't be
The memories of comrades-in-arms
executing precision raids
come flooding back and, for a brief moment,
I forget I'm an old man:
I am that fearless young marauder
thumbing his nose at rules,
living dangerously, taking risks
in the seductive midnight hours
when proper folks are asleep in bed

Even the sickly smell of watermelon
is a welcome tribute to a simpler time
when desperate friends rallied around a common cause
for no other reason than the thrill of adventure

What happened to our resolve?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Poem #5-2011

"Don't use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry."

So Kerouac said
Once again an explanation
from the past of the future
Which is now
Which is always

Electrical vibrations
evaporate forever
into that place
whence they came

But a poem!
A hand-penned
(or typed on a manual)
poem communicates