the oleaginous,

the craven,

perched on tree stumps,

hands shading eyes to better

see the pitchfork tines,

the dancing torch flames,

grinning,

assessing the frenzy


Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

some imperious, red-lipped, salty-mouthed,

others drift in gimlet-eyed diffidence,

all gossamer now, clarity only to be

found in the reels of Morpheus


Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

I remember no words,

only the sting of hot coffee,

a hurried gulp,

so not to speak of your leaving


Photo: Robert Bye on Unsplash

the people,
the tide of people,
the swarm hurrying across gargantuan
sun-streamed rooms as
they rush in a glide along golden handrails
before descending through smooth marble stairwells,
the people,
some tense, and cross, and expended,
brows furrowed, forlorn with unrest
while others,
the people
who walk brightly with anticipation,
indefatigable,
their comings and goings
each a new adventure,
life not waiting to be lived


Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

and now we wait on sharply bladed tenterhooks

as news sparks kindle hope,

yet the chasm widens


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Two, side-by-side, standing, silent,
awaiting our decision.
We choose the smaller, the younger one.
Hooray!
Excitement, commotion, a readying of things.
Congratulatory words alight upon us.
A marvelous choice, you are perfectly suited,
the kids will adore him.
The gate unlatched, whisked into another room.
A bathing, inoculation, presented flawless.
A modest sum tendered, a signature penned.
A dizzying, back-seat free-for-all.
We speed away.
New family member, new best friend.
Each of us curious.
How big will he grow?
What tricks will he learn?
Who will be his favorite?
The questions abound, except for one:
What of the other?


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hair grown white

brushed straight away

gnarled spine

shoulders unsquared

padded stool

red leather tome

pencil scars

yellowed borders

crooked finger

brittle leaves

blurred mass

rimless descent

old friend

immersion

comfort alights


Photo by Chris Thompson on Unsplash

The long dormant heart need

burst,

explode,

dance in the fire,

decry the years,

dare laugh at the black angel,

howl with glee,

a jacquerie of one,

for you are a presence,

alive.

Astonish,

before it is too late,

for the lambent eve wanes.


Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

I know the three-mile ride across town to Dad’s house — and certainly across some metaphorical tracks somewhere — to the better (much better) part of town in an ancient but functioning Dodge Dart, is likely to be the best part of my day.

I crank the windows down — I like that the Dart was built before manual labor was sniffed at — and allow the manufactured wind to swirl about the interior, typhooning old food wrappers and at least one parking ticket across the dashboard.

My fork lands on the whipped yams with a moist thud as I wait, elbows propped, my empty hand supporting my scruffy chin. A dolorous cloud consumes me as my stepmother — all of two years my senior — leans over the bright poinsettia-themed tablecloth holding a large plated bird, its legs up and seared brown, and she pauses while my relatives clear a bowl of cranberries, and braised potatoes, and assorted silver-plated utensils taken from Grandma Rumson’s Oneida collection, the flatware removed from their mahogany case, the one with the red velveteen interior, and polished once a year on Thanksgiving Eve, before she sets the turkey down in its sacrificial place of honor at the center of the table. …


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Old man I see you,
blue suit and bow tie
and hat placed neatly aside,
cradling your coffee,
an absentminded gaze
through the tall windows
and beyond
to the young passersby
in a hurry,
as you once were,
busily home to love
to soothe the withering day,
love that you once had
but has passed.

Old man I see you,
your eyes a fluid blue,
still,
wistful,
locked in memory,
bittersweet,
vivid,
that plays before you
to touch,
taste,
breathe,
a pas de deux of passion
eclipsed by time.

Old man I see you,
and you are not alone

About

Philip Lawrence

Writer, poet, bibliophile, animal lover

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