Life and Death

They say the old boy’s car broke down
off in some South Georgia town
So he’s doing’ odd jobs to pay for repairs
no tellin’ how long he’ll be stuck there
Every day is another surprise
you might laugh or you might cry
roll with the punches and hold your breath
might be a matter of life and death
He clocked home early and went home sick
the strange car in the driveway was another kick
had some options, none of them was good
ain’t always easy doin’ what you think you should
Every day is another surprise
you might laugh or you might cry
roll with the punches and hold your breath
might be a matter of life and death
You get used to things being a certain way
but tomorrow is another day
never know if it will be better or worse
or if you’ll feel you’ve been blessed or cursed
A closet full of memories and tools in the garage
a sinking feeling thirty years were a mirage
sorting through old picture, old letters and cards
she knew the day was coming,
didn’t know it would be so hard
Every day is another surprise
you might laugh or you might cry
roll with the punches and take a deep breath
probably a matter of life and death

Father

The ritual my father performed
just to make a cup of coffee,
the paper towels on the counter top,
cup and spoon and jar arranged just so
waiting for the kettle to whistle,
comes to me sitting on the edge of the bed
placing my watch, cigarettes, ashtray,
glass of dietcoke and hanky clockwise
in front of the radio on
the nightstand, just so.

He never told anyone to move
from His Chair once the cup
was brewed, just said “are you
about done sitting there?” then stood
expectantly – somehow it never
took long – until the perpetrator
came to their senses and he
could arrange the cup and more
paper towels and usually some ice cream
cookies or other health food on the end table
getting Comfortable to peer down his nose
through tribifocals at the evening papers
browse through Outdoor Life watch the tube
or mabey take a snooze until it was time
to get up and do something else, like go to bed.

Sometimes, in the livng room lit
only by the television screen,
with my feet on the coffee table
(he favored a favorite footstool)
and my hands folded across my belly, elbows up
on the arms of the chair causing my shoulders
to kind of hunch up so my neck appears
to disappear, head tilted slightly forward,
in perfect stillness but with anticipatory
tension because we know we’ll have to get up
sometime, the way I’m sitting is him, damn,
I AM him, part of me wants to move and be me
again but something else holds me fast so that
he stays with me for a little while, and I look
through his eyes again for a little while
for a little while wondering
what he might say were he here.

Undone

In the wee hours
of the night
it comes together
or undone
perhaps when
you realize
there’s no place
left to run
Yesterday seems
a long time ago
tomorrow is just
a vague rumor
grown accustomed
to the heartache
like living with
a benign tumor
the moon is wearing
her resting bitch face
from her we’ll get
no sympathy
still we look up
and offer simple prayers
that somehow
she’ll set us free
what you thought
was your real struggle
is in fact your only fun
so you chuckle
and you whisper,
“come on, morning sun”

Dreamless

From a dreamless sleep
into a dreamless waking
with motions to go through
and steps to be taken
leading somewhere
I really don’t need to go
but I wouldn’t want
to miss the show

Expecting everything may
lead to disappointment
expecting nothing opens
a path to enjoyment
even if it’s only sunlit trees
swaying as if dancing
in the breeze

Do not mistake
these gifts for rewards
they cannot be earned
only perceived
and the virtue of living
while doing no harm
cannot be proven
it must be believed

Smudge

A gray smudge of a cloud
like someone erasing a place
in the sky passes in front
of a moon so full it might burst
but it’s a small cloud…
and soon the pale light returns
bringing memories of the future
dreams of the past
and a deep joyful breath
of the present

For A Friend

Together apart
is hard on the heart
with so much to say
and no one to say it to
so gone yet so near
and the worst of your fears
have all come to visit
in your room with no view

Having fun don’t seem right
and try as you might
you can’t help feeling guilty
for just being alive
but please be assured
while you may never be cured
the worst of the symptoms
will slowly subside

When you’ve seen the path
you’ll be able to laugh
and a return to the darkness
will not be a choice
you won’t need approval
and finally you will
be able to forgive yourself
with an honest voice

Keep Holding On

In a state of disrepair
might be easier to demolish
but a nail here, a nail there
a little spit and polish
won’t ever be as good as new
but better than being gone
when it’s all you know to do
keep holding on, hold on
In a state of disbelief
is this really real
a little comedy relief
might help the way I feel
a song bird at the feeder
or a rabbit on the lawn
when it’s all you know to do
keep holding on, hold on
Hold on to the beauty
hold on to the love
hold on to your faith
that there’s a God above
hold on
Is it cowardice or just wisdom
advertised to come with age
that has us pouring water on
the fires that feed our rage
and relying on the process
of karma to get it done
when it’s all you know to do
keep holding on, hold on
It might be your nature
to lower your head and swing
it might be your nature
to hold it high and sing
either choice is valid
if it gets you to the dawn
if it’s all you know to do
keep holding on, hold on
Hold on to the beauty
hold on to the love
hold on to your faith
that there’s a God above
hold on