by Michael Estabrook
I recall the first time I read
Dantes Divine Comedy
all the way through
as a medical sales rep
carrying it with me faithfully
as I trudged through airport lounges and hotel hallways
diners, company lobbies, doctors waiting rooms . . .
Not because I was trying to show off
traipsing around with such an important
work of literature
but instead because reading it lifted me up and out
of my humdrum existence
into a world I scarcely couldve imagined
with demons and torture, angels and sunlight
and everything in between.
Expecting that the mere reading of every word
would save my soul somehow.
I wonder what
my grandfather did every day
in his little room
off the living room at the front of the house.
I know hed sit in his rocker
read newspapers both The Daily
Home News and the New York Post
but you cant read newspapers all day long
so what else did he do?
There was nothing else in there
that I could see
no books or hobbies or TV
not even a deck of cards.
Sometimes Id glance in
and hed be sitting in his rocker
staring out the window into the street
at nothing in particular.
My brothers soulmate throughout his life
was a high school girlfriend they
did everything together but life got
in the way sent them down
different paths she married some other
guy and he never married at all.
When the end came too soon
he admitted he should have never
let her get away and he
was angry she married some other
guy. And then he passed away.
A couple years later that other
guy cheated on her dragged her
through a miserable divorce. If my
brother knew (and maybe he does)
he wouldve been inconsolably torn apart
hating him and needing to heal
her wouldve stopped at nothing to
bring happiness back into her life
they were soulmates after all.
Yes I know
its the 50 year anniversary of Woodstock
the granddaddy of all music festivals
featured many of the bands and performers
I still love:
Jimi, Janis, The Who, Jefferson Airplane,
Joe Cocker, Canned Heat, Mountain,
Grateful Dead, Santana, Country Joe and the Fish,
Crosby, Stills & Nash . . . But no I didnt go.
I was working three jobs
at the time saving to buy my girls
But I confess I never
wouldve taken her there anyway
too uncertain too dangerous.
Caught in the rain and mud
crammed in among thousands of strangers
wasnt my idea of a good time.
I wasnt that much
of a free spirit back then (or now actually).
Besides, what was I supposed to tell her dad:
Im taking your daughter hundreds
of miles away to sleep in a muddy field
for three nights with thousands
of drugged-out whack-a-doodles. Nope,
that never wouldve worked.
I see you from the corner of my eye:
that mocking look
on your face reminding me
Im acting like an ass.
Hear your voice
admonishing me for something insensitive
or stupid Ive said
relieved you are still being my conscience.
I know I needed your criticism and guidance
finding comfort and assurance
in your vigilant attention
to my never-ending sophomoric behavior.
Even though youve been gone
five years it doesnt surprise me
that I still see and hear you.
I expect you
to still be hovering around
making a pest of yourself until the end of my days.
What else are brothers for I hear you say.
Give or Take
The fancy-pants astrophysicist
with the big glasses and crazy hair explains
in logical scientific detail that in 5 billion years (give or take)
our Milky Way Galaxy will collide
with our neighbor the so much larger Andromeda Galaxy
and be torn apart.
Oh no! I think and begin to worry
but abruptly realize 5 billion years, seriously!
Even I cant be that stupid to worry
about something 5 billion years down the road
I tell myself as I see the Devil in his corner
shaking his head not having to say anything
this time for a change.
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