Monthly Archives: May 2016

Monday Night Poetry and Music

Tonight I am going to Monday Night Poetry and Music to read some of my stuff.  It is at the East Bay Meeting House, 160 Meeting Street in Charleston.  It starts at 8.  Hope to see you there.


The Soldier Memorial Day 2016

As he lay dying,

He didn’t think of his country.

He thought of his mother

And the tears she would shed

As she buried her only son.

She always told him

Take care of yourself, Albert.

And come home

To people that love you.

 

He did not think of the country he was giving his life for.

He did not think of the rhetoric of politicians.

He did not think that God wanted this war.

 

He thought of his girlfriend

The girl he loved since sixth grade

But only got up the nerve

To ask her out a year ago.

He thought of her smile

That was often followed by giddy laughter

In response to something silly he did.

He thought of her deep brown eyes

That would make the rest of the world melt away

And made his heart both weak and strong.

 

He did not think of the country he was giving his life for.

He did not think of the minimum wage.

He did not think of bathrooms or wedding cakes.

 

He thought of his kid brother

Barely in his teens and

Already getting into trouble.

Who will teach him life’s lessons,

While playing basketball

On the court set up in their driveway?

Who will keep him in line,

While giving him space to grow?

 

He did not think of the country he was giving his life for.

He did not think of the racism or the crime in the streets.

He did not think of the hatred of the stranger in the land of liberty.

 

He thought of many things.

He thought of the people he loved,

Their words, their smiles, their laughter.

And then he thought no more.

 

And we, whom he died for,

Think of bathrooms and wedding cakes.

And listen to the venomous rhetoric of our politicians.

And moan that the weather did not cooperate for our barbecue.

And haggle at car dealerships with salesman

Who are looking to their next customer.

 

We, whom he died for, hardly ever

Think of the soldiers

Whose last moments

Were alone

But filled with memories

Of meaning.

 


The Extra

 

Sitting across from 157B, waiting for my shot.

Sounds fabulous. Sounds glamorous.

Haven’t been in a film since N.Y.,

Close to thirty years ago.

Last Exit to Brooklyn, or was it the one

That I dragged my brother to?

 

He thought it would be cool.

So I took him along.

We spent twelve hours in a smoky bar,

Atmosphere created by six fog machines,

Filling the space and making it hard to breathe.

Drinking colored water,

And waiting until,

The shot was ready,

And the lights were turned on,

And the cameras rolled,

And the stars walked by,

And that was it.

 

Then the crew and the extras spent another three hours

Getting background shots

As the stars were in their trailers

Doing whatever stars did in their trailers

And my brother and I

Sat and waited and talked.

 

We hadn’t been close for a few years.

We grew apart as brothers often do.

I don’t know why he wanted to do this.

It was my tenth extra gig.

I was used to the boredom,

The waiting for those few moments of excitement.

 

Maybe he wanted just to hang out with his younger brother.

Maybe he had something to tell me.

If he did, I don’t remember.

I remember he was sick by the end of the shot.

Sick of the fake smoke.

Sick of the fake drinks.

Sick of the deadly repetition

And the deadly silence in between.

We ran out of things to say after the third hour.

The shoot lasted twelve.

 

The director approached me,

Bringing me back to the present.

She asked me if I smoked.

I told her, if she needed me to smoke, I’ll smoke.

I hadn’t touched a cigarette in over twenty years.

Gave it up before my daughter was born.

She said if I didn’t mind.

I said I didn’t.

 

So I stood with my back turned to the camera,

With a cigarette in my hand,

Waiting for “Action”,

Taking a puff

And walking away from the camera

And out of the frame.

 

We filmed it again and again, and again.

Waiting for “Action”

The cigarette in my hand.

I took a puff between shots to keep it lit.

And then it was gone.

I asked for another.

 

After the third cigarette

They gave me a lighter

So I could put the cig out between takes.

 

After the sixth cigarette,

They gave me a pack

So I didn’t have to ask again.

 

I thought of my brother.

I thought of my daughter.

I thought of my own life

A bit actor in my own story.

 

And then the director called “Action”

And I took a drag,

And walked away from the camera.

And out of the shot.

 

Ten seconds later,

I was once again standing where

I was standing a moment before,

Having done nothing

Accomplished nothing

Again standing where I began.

 

I lit another cigarette

And took another long drag.

And stood on my mark

Because that is where I needed to be.

Again with a cigarette in my hand,

Waiting for action.

 


Even When

When I am having a hard day

I try to do one really good thing

For someone else, for something else.

Even when my heart is breaking

I can look at that something,

That someone, and say

It wasn’t all about me today

It was about something

Bigger than myself

So even though

My pain is unbearable

I can go on, I can go on

Until another day is done

Until the day is done.