Oddments

In search of story


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Connections: May 29.17

While Jean served in the Marines (yesterday’s post),

Edna, my other aunt, served in the WAVES.

She also kept a scrapbook.

On the left, the lyrics to “The Navy’s Got a Job For Me.”

On the right, a booklet of songs, dedicated (no kidding!) on the day I came into the world.

Thus do families keep the reasons for Memorial Day.

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Connections: May 9.17

My grandma had a tiny house

if you take a yardstick measure

but it was huge in other ways:

curiosity and treasure.

The coolest stuff was hid away

but I knew where to find it

and she would let me hold it

and tell the tale behind it.

Now I’m packing up my house

which means, I’m sure you know,

packing up my family

striving to let go.

Memories sneak in everywhere

in closet and in drawer

one thing leads to another

as I’m sorting on the floor.

You will understand, I’m sure,

I hyperventilate

when I note the Christmas card box:

45 for $1.98!

And thus do different eras

re-tell themselves to me

as I wrap the family flotsam

as if crown jewelry.

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Connections: April 20.17

Cold recurring thought

from which there’s no escape:

is this what it all comes down to —

bubble wrap and tape?

Is this how I preserve

bits of family lore?

I must insist on NO:

that’s what my words are for.

Wrapping family hand-me-downs

in paragraphs and pages

is how we bubble-wrap

our stories for the ages.

Who cares? you ask. Who’s going to read?

Oh, someone will, somewhere —

a curious, amused

incredulous distant heir.

The unknown genealogist

no matter he or she

doubtless brilliant, charming

in fact, a lot like me.

And thus my thoughts run on

unburdening shelves and drawers

caught between the memories

and the unknowable encores.

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Vagaries in Gestation: On Being Linear, Part V, April 5.17

The pillow of an insomniac

cleaved by her back

tells of her vigil

sitting upright

in the black cold syrup

of slow minutes

the hour of the wolf

they call it

because it stalks the weak

because it devours

nothing changes in her grey room

but behind her eyes

the pageant of life

and death

rehearsing every misspoken line

rebreathing every choked breath

rewalking every unknowable path

sitting up

but wandering

trapped

amid the masks and powdered wigs

of

judges

and mimes.

Vagaries in Gestation


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Connections: March 3.17

getpart-5I couldn’t believe my eyes

could such a thing still be?

The ultimate decadence

wanton luxury!

Root beer, hot dog, burger

borne like royal crown

to ketchup-starved gourmands

with windows all rolled down.

No four-star restaurant

could possibly compare

with fumes of cheese and onion

and French-fried August air.

I stammer to express

my thoughts so recondite

on this extant greasy wondrous

ancient summer rite.

Thanks again to the S.W. Berg Photo Archives.

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