Roots to Hold Us

Roots to Hold Us

 

Drawing of complex tree branches with a red background.

 

Missy and Gabe

“She always looks for you boys”
old man Gabe would tell me and my little brother as he’d puff on his pipe

and we’d pet his big shaggy heavily panting
motor-tail wagging Golden Retriever
Missy who would lead him
down the block like clockwork three
times a day

sniffing, waiting and hoping to see
us smile
as we always would

when they’d wander up to our house
her coat was rough to the touch
dry like a stack of hay
it carried the sweet scent of pipe tobacco
through the coldest winter days

and when the doctors told Gabe he had to put down the pipe
Missy kept their pace

Then one day I saw him out the window
walking so slowly
his pipe-hand empty
and in the other hand just a leash

I can still see him in his gentle stride
letting us know “She always looks for you boys.”
Then he picked up the pipe again

 

 

 

Drawing of complex tree branches with a blue cityscape background.

Cherub 

The wisest scholar through a child’s eyes sees
He crushes sin and folds his knees
His wings emerge
and thus he’s freed

The kindest man with a child’s mind thinks
He raises the weak and tends to the sick
The poor man pains to assume it a trick

The truest lover as a child’s heart feels
Always for the first time

 

 

Drawing of complex tree branches with a blue leafy background.

 

Yogurteria

Dad used to keep dozens of large styrofoam cups of Milky Way flavored frozen yogurts
piled up in his freezer for months at a time
They were so frozen that we’d use the microwave to make them edible
We would go to Yogurteria at least once a week sometimes more
and me and my little brother Tanny would get pizza
Two slices for me once I got to second grade and so did my appetite
and one slice for Tanny
Dad would get big chopped salads for dinner
There was frozen yogurt for desert of course
and there were only six choices back then
and they put the toppings on for you
Fat Free Sugar Free Milky Way in a large cup for Dad
and I would stand at the counter
indecisive for several minutes at a time
He would remind me that Milky Way is Fat Free Sugar Free
and it would be healthier to get in a cup
but in the end even if I wanted vanilla in a wafer cone with rainbow sprinkles
that’s what I got
Thursday evenings meant that Dad would bring home a pie for dinner after work
before me and Tanny had to take baths and brush our teeth and go to bed

And Hagar the lady behind the counter converted to Hare Krishna
And Dad sold his ’93 Maxima to a big guy named Aubrey who chopped his salads
and always waited patiently for me to pick which flavor frozen yogurt I wanted
And Dad would give medical advice to Fred the new owner and one time
Fred’s son lost his hearing aid and we looked for it in the parking lot
And Fred told me that when I turned fourteen I could get a job at Yogurteria
but for some reason I never did
and when Fred bought the franchise he took down the ERIA so it just said YOGURT
and he renamed the place Plaza Café
and he started offering more options than just pizza and yogurt and salad
but everyone in town still called it Yogurteria
Senior year of high school even though it was far away
and I might be late back to class I’d occasionally go for lunch
And once I graduated I would get big chopped salads

Now Dad is engaged and she keeps his freezer organized
And it says European Wax Center where it used to say Yogurteria
And I almost miss the sweet bland taste of slightly microwaved Milky Way
overly frozen yogurt in large styrofoam cups

 

 

 

 

Drawing of complex tree branches with a red, orange and yellow background.

Jazz

Par la fenêtre descend la pluie
Il fait trop froid pour l’Australie

Les lumières rouges et bleues
Mélangent sur la scène
Et le saxophone crie à la nuit
Quoi prochaine

Claquent le verres
Chantent les touches
Coule la musique

Et comme une abeille d’une printemps
longtemps passé,
Je vole autour de la chambre

La pluie n’arrête jamais

 

 

 

Drawing of a small park area, with a large tree.

 

The 18th Street Dane

BooggabooggabooggaBLEHHH!! All these dumb
fucks and worthless chumps don’t know what hits them
when I lumber on up from behind them,
interrupt their oh so important strides,
then lock our eyes, flail my arms, and spew out
nothing but “incoherent

They witness me get tossed out on my ass
by two or three deli employees and
then get back up I always get back up,
walk in again, and get thrown out again.
I punch the window, unleash a shriek and
move on. The next one’s around the corner.

It’s the tourists who really make my day,
since locals pretend that I don’t exist.
Those unknowing good-for-nothing’s in this
city of shit, blasphemy, and nightmares
need a wake-up call, someone to tell them
what they hold dear doesn’t really matter

My name will remain my secret because
I am not the kind of man who you can
put in a box of beginnings, middles,
ends, names dates words all just words when it’s clear—
what we really need now is some action.

 

 

 

Drawing of complex, twisty tree branches with a red background.

 

It’s not fair

When your ruler doesn’t measure up
and your cup of Joe can’t keep you from passing out
after a long day’s work
you still don’t know what your life’s all about

and every shout just makes it worse
‘cuz you can’t blame others for you troubles
nor can you live in your own little bubble

Where’s the balance between disillusioned trance
and vengeful reprimands?

It’s just not fair that we only see one way—
Look at the world upside down today:

What if
I were on top
and you were at the bottom
and as hard as we tried we couldn’t know who shot ’em?

if guilt was made of tolerance,
and each pauper replaced every prince,

what if time flowed crooked and progress moved back
and trying to do right gave you a mental heart attack?

What if the world we live in’s just and inside out mirage?
We got the motor running waiting for death in the garage!

and if nothing’s the way it’s supposed to be
and we’re stuck in life like a poor old tree:

roots holding us down—
There’s no way to be free?

We could escape through death like a tree chopped down,
but what’s it accomplish to make each other frown?

We could expand our minds and discover the truth,
but is the knowledge of futility any better than oblivious youth?

Then again,
if ignorance is bliss I’d rather be miserable
We can’t just let it all remain invisible.

 
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