My second novel has been accepted for publication, due out on July 4, 2019
Wondering if there is any interest in me posting a new fiction project I’m undertaking in installments on here as I go along. Please respond if you’d like me to. Thanks in advance for your response. I appreciate all your support.
A.A.’s kidnapping and drowning
When I was a child, horrified me,
And still does.
It was an image of my
Own childhood —
To be taken away
In the midst of play —
What to say to the little
Brother (almost a twin)
He, too, came home
To an empty room.
You say — “We have packed your things
And are moving away.”
Away, today, from Jewett Parkway.
Days of summer gone.
If I had written a line like that,
Joe Bolton, I would have died
A happy man.
Why did you do it,
Were you half in love with
How did you do it?
Did you bite your tongue?
I would understand
If that was the case.
You see, I have these questions.
The seasons, each one wistful
In its own way, but especially
Summer, which you chose, Joe-
Evanescent- lingering echoes,
Distant strains of music
Fading in and out,
Vestiges of the past that you can
Imagine, remember, and even see,
But never quite put your finger on,
Much less grasp.
And though you grieved
You did it in
Not wanting to see
Another summer come
And go, I suppose.
Your poetry is full of
Lost loves, ghosted memories
And empty beds—
I get that
And who am I
To say you nay?
And couldn’t you
Have at least
To tell us
If it was worth
The strength it takes
To see another
With a wordless
Say it isn’t so Joe Bolton!
Heat never bothers you
As a kid, play until
You drop, brown and dusty
Then haul ass on your bike
To the corner store,
Grab an ice cold pop
From the cooler
And you’re good to go,
Ready to play two
Before you’re called home for dinner.
It turns up a bit as a teen, though,
Hot to trot seemingly every second,
Flushing with embarrassment
At every faux pas committed,
A frequent occurrence
At that most awkward age,
As I’m sure we all remember.
Then in your prime, the biological clock
A time bomb ticking,
The procreative urge at white heat
Intensity, making you even
More prone to lapses in judgment
That can have a life-long impact
(choice of mate being one).
And perhaps a mid-life crisis
Or two, one last chance to
Recapture your vigor
(such as it was)
Ruin everyone’s life
Revisit your youthful aspirations
And do something about them
If it’s not too late
(it’s never too late).
Even now I love being out in it,
(Though admittedly mostly in my
Imagination these days)-
Reading about it in Faulkner,
Recalling the stillness of days past
In the shimmering heat.
Just the thought of it
Gives me some warmth
In the depths of winter.
But as you grow older, and the
Vital heat paradoxically wanes,
You can’t escape it, and notice it
In many different ways, though often
Retreating to desert cities,
Where, even if you wouldn’t
Be caught dead outside in the
Scorching air, you can still
Enjoy it vicariously
Through the picture window in your
Air conditioned abode.
I suppose it does warm your bones
A bit to do that
Although you know
Your time has passed
And you’re preoccupied
With merely trying to survive
To control your temperatures
Within and without
All the while allowing
The planet to burn up.
Dear Ken, FDR wrote to Judge Landis
shortly after Pearl Harbor when it was
being decided whether major league games
should continue during the war,
America needs baseball as a recreational diversion for a nation
that will of necessity be working longer and harder than ever
before in the coming times.
My friend Rich, when I stood beside him
in his hospital bed during his last days,
echoed a similar sentiment,
asking me to talk about baseball
for a while. I knew, that despite having
the mathematical mind of the engineer
he was, it wasn’t the facts he normally
craved- standings, statistics, playoff probabilities
of each team (especially those of his beloved
Phils)- that he wanted, he had the newspaper
lying next to him for that.
I chose instead to talk about the beauty
of the game we loved beyond measure, its
history, the evolution of its
rules, some of the players we loved- Cobb, Wheat,
Ruth, Mathewson, Parker, Stargell, Omar
the Outmaker, Schmidt, Carlton, and Richie
(call me Dick) Allen, the fact that it had
brought us together, what we would do
after the final out was made, but more particularly
of the time Ferris Fain (of the other
Philadelphia team) went 5 for 5
against Vic Raschi for his team (including
a game-winning home run) in our
Strat-O-Matic baseball game.
Thank you for the diversion, he said,
looking up at me when I had finished.
I leaned over and kissed him good-bye.
Afterward, when asked by his wife to give
his eulogy, I declined. I couldn’t- wouldn’t-
discuss our friendship in front of strangers-
it was private, cherished, and ultimately ineffable.
I offer this elegy instead.
– for Richard Swiniuch (1952-2001)