Cigarette

Clear as Spring dawn

I remember Miss Nance’s

Second grade classroom,

When she yanked me by the arm

Out of my little hardwood desk

And dragged me to the cloak room to

Beat me within earshot of all.

Tight-lipped and stoic in her labor she

Added nothing to the racket. Nor did I.

Just took it.

 

That afternoon we

Huddled under our desks,

Warned to look away from

The tall widows that opened over the

Roof tops fanned out below our hill

Toward the river.

Warned that the flash from the

Bomb that the Russians would surely

Drop on our mills

Would blind us.

 

Under the desk, still sore,

I wished they’d come.

Come and drop their damned bomb.

Catch her looking-

Blind her in front of the room

Burn her into a pillar of dust

Which they said we would all be

On that day.

Which the priest says you are now

If you listened to him.

 

I lay there and promised myself

My first cigarette after school;

Not connecting till later that I wanted to

Put it out in Miss Nance’s eye

The way my old man had done to the

Mill foreman who called him a little Dago

That time at the union picnic.

No, just then I only wanted the cigarette.

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The Mud Smith’s Home

Someone curious once asked, “Are you a Gypsy?”
“No. But I work with mud.” He replied.


A peacock called Bukowski
lives with him on top a knoll
where brick kilns loom like Celtic altars.
The shards of failed pots pave the way
to where we shared coffee and strange tales.

Inside the house
the walls display clay mugs
and plates scrawled
with symbols of no special device
which invite, then defy translation.

We strolled and spoke as freely
as old friends again meeting,
while two lazy bees still sluggish from winter
drifted weightily about our heads
sweetly buzzing with Swedenborg and Gurdjieff.

As we looked at the patch of field
where the Gypsies once camped,
we wondered
if they would come back.
He said, “I would tell them
‘I work with mud’
And if they didn’t already know
I’d show them how.”

-By Gerald Musinsky

A few years ago, on a different blog, I wrote an appreciation of my friend Gerry upon his death a decade before. I found this while going through some ancient papers from when we worked together on a New Plays Festival. He had scribbled notes on the back of the typed copy. I don’t know if this was ever published as my copy of his “Steel Living” is…misplaced somewhere on the four floors among the hundreds of books that give me some structure. Assume it’s here somewhere unless one of the girls took off with it as an artifact of a place and time. If not them, I blame the cats. They are clever imps and spend too much unsupervised time wandering the stacks. Pretty sure Lohman can read-he plays dumb, but I’m not buying.

January 19, 2018

anna

Anna Yanni was born 22 days after my father in 1931.

She never had a Christmas morning where-as the only child

The room would be full of gifts for the gift.

She never played in the yard or worked in her grandfather’s garden.

She didn’t go to school.

Never acted in the high school production of Best Foot Forward,

Never went to art school-never drew a thing.

Didn’t spend 18 years in the Army Reserves

Pushing and being pushed.

Never worked,

Never laid a brick.

Didn’t marry, raise children,

Worry, love, be paralyzed by fear.

Be proud, prideful or exult.

Yell!

Work, play, fish

Have friends, have family,

Watch the Steelers,

Live, love, laugh, drink,

Die at home.

Maybe that last. Probably.

For 16 days why even leave Heaven?

Who booked her on that cruise?

Who was little Anna sent to serve

Or to save?

Rapeseed Oil

Twice this month alone

I’ve read poems that allude to

Rapeseed oil.

Two different poets writing about different things.

Once, I could see.

Twice?

Or do poets all write about the same thing?

If so, what’s with the rapeseed oil?

What did I miss? Why didn’t I hear about it?

I’ll stop with the poetry for a while.

A third would be too much.

Across the way the cat pads at his bed

For what seems like hours with that stupid face he gets.

Drives me nuts until I throw a pillow at him and scream for him

To stop.

He hisses and stomps up the stairs, each loud creak

Echoing through the house.

Coffee tastes like burnt wood without half and half;

There are no more cookies and

Only ten oxys left

in the Imodium bottle in the fridge.

Enough for three days if I’m careful.

Then I have to make a move.

Radio Silence

Radio Silence

When the wind died

He could feel the silence

Pressing.

There had to be a hawk.

Birds were down-

Huddled, gone;

Death in sight.

Silence has its own sound:

Thick winter water

Trickling over pebbles

Under a shell of ice.

Cold trees cracking, breathing.

The lazy wash of his own blood

Coursing, flowing

For the time being.