A Visit

darkness and strong winds
preceded the storm as

the trees turned into dark
silhouettes and the

temperature dropped

debris flew off the roofs of
houses nevertheless the

rain held back but not for long

as I remembered a piece of
my childhood about thunder

who told us that thunder is

the sound of Rip Van Winkle and
his men playing ninepins in the
clouds above the Catskills

if my father told us I wouldn’t
believe him and if I laughed
I didn’t know why

I know now

probably nervous to death
with fear constant fear

my hope for them is a brief
visit and speedy return to
the Catskills we visited

a visit
I can no longer remember

from a childhood I rather
not remember

Rip excluded

To Be or Not To Be

as soon as I sat down in my chair on the
patio it started to rain again

I had to wear a light vest and as I lit a late
afternoon cigar I listened to

what seemed to be a host of kettle drums
sitting on the metal roof that would fade

in and out

then it slowed down to the sound of big
drops running off the roof to the worn

grass below that looked like a giant sheet
on a player piano rolling down

now that reminded me of the Steinway
that sat in our living room and

my piano teacher who quit

sometimes kids can’t be forced to be who
their parents wanted to be or want them to be

this can set the stage for a life of failure upon
failure upon failure

to this day I can sing some say as sweetly as
Nancy Wilson but I can’t play a thing

or read music yet there has been a choir or
two here and there

and that nervous but fine solo on Danny Boy

but my folks spent a lifetime discouraging me
from doing anything that I wanted to do

so acting and singing among other things
simply faded away like most of my dreams

much like the rain falling off the roof to
the ground

Joyful Interlude

At some point I stopped
listening to music. For me
it was someone else’s joy.

Someone else’s story.
Not mine. Abuse of any
kind stops the music

of your life.

My LP records sit on a
shelf. I thumb through
them from time to time.

I can’t play my music
CDs either. I don’t want
to revisit a life of abuse.

Songs stir memories
I rather not have. But I
long for the sweet and

joyful interlude that
was written only for me.

[Author’s note: FYI, there is an exception. I have a group of CDs known as my car music, e.g., The Manhattans, Huey Lewis, The Commodores, to name a few, that I listen to on and off. But they stay in the car.]

Was Me

In my mind, that place where fantasy
and I meet, I watched wave after wave
crash on the shore. I saw heartache

after heartache wash away the lines
in the sand. You can’t cross a line if
it isn’t there, can you?

I looked up at the dunes. I saw a big
woman waving to me. “Come on!” she
waved with one hand while the other

kept a large floppy sun hat on her
head. On the beach the sand was hot
in the midday sun and the water was

cold but there was always wind on
the dunes. Her light sundress blew
against her side and back.

I started to walk up the steep path
from the beach to the dunes. I lost
sight of her where the path zigzagged

as I neared the place where she stood.
When I got to the top, it became clear
that the woman was me.

As I laughed and sighed, I looked at
the beach. I saw a little boy playing
alone in the sand. He looked up.

There was something about him that
said he always plays alone. As I
waved, “Come on!” I knew that the

skinny tanned little boy was me.

The Unspeakable

It was early in the afternoon.
We closed the bedroom door
and did what we said we’d do.

My wife asked me to tell her
about what happened to me
when I was a child.

I have seldom spoken about
the unspeakable, undoable,
unthinkable, unbelievable.

All true. We walked through
the secret places of my
childhood sexual abuse.

When I was eight years old,
I lost a lifetime but I didn’t
learn about it until I was fifty.

You listened and loved me with
each word I spoke. You love me
for all that we will share and do.

What I know, all that I hoped for,
longed to do, and deeply desired
would never be the same as we

take a new road together that
rose out of the fire and ashes
of the unspeakable.

A Candle of Faith

I can’t be having the thoughts I’m having.
The thoughts of past abuse never go
completely away. I understand that.

Those thoughts spawn other thoughts.
And before I know it, I’m back in a place
I don’t want to be.

Pain and pleasure converge once again
and I’m in touch with the confusion of
the eight-year-old that was me.

It is Satan’s fuel fanning the fires of past
abuse freezing my thoughts for today.
Fiery arrows aimed at the heart to destroy

whatever is true. The breath of an angel is
all it takes to quench this Hell fire and
bring me back into God’s grace and truth.

Light and darkness can never occupy the
same space. All it takes is a candle of faith
to dispel the darkness.