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

The Bird Sang

It is getting colder and
rain clouds are pressing in.

There was one bird singing;
I thought it was for me but

he stopped.

I don’t have a song today.
I long to sing a song I love.

I will sing again but not today.
The bird returned singing a
new song:

“When your breasts are full
and your hips are wide, you
will laugh and sing.”

I wondered if the bird sang
to me.

Traffic Light

It is a delightful day. The sun
and the birds are plentiful.
The bird songs exquisite!

I can’t tell one bird from the
other. So that makes me a
bird listener as I could never

be a bird watcher. Fifty-four
years ago this month I was
in Vietnam. I had to take a

color vision test. You know
the one—each page has a big
circle and in each big circle

there are a bunch of small
circles. I was told that there
is a big number in each of

the big circles. I flipped
through all of them. No
numbers for me. Not a one.

I don’t know what you see,
but I do know it is different
than what I see. For the most

part, my life is devoid of color.
My life view is made up of light
and dark. Lighter or darker.

I guess I live in the shadows of
shades of gray where there is
an occasional flash of yellow or

green. A few years after we were
married we realized that we had
a color problem. She would point

to her thigh and say, “Do you see
that? See that red area. That is
where the pain is,” as she rubbed.

“Sorry, I don’t see a thing.”

The following week she’d ask me
to look in her eye, “You see that?
It really itches; you see the red.”

“Sorry, I don’t see a thing. I can’t
see red on black.”

So, I told her the same thing I am
telling you. I failed the color vision
test way back when she was five.

It was time for dinner and I couldn’t
resist, “So, you’re black? I married a
black woman? Why didn’t you tell me!”

I think she punched me in the arm.
Then laughed, “Once you’ve had black,
baby, there is no going back!”

I shook my head.

She asked, “So how do you see things?”
I answered, “My dear Mrs. Gray, I take
life one traffic light at a time.”

The Sound of the Wind

I was sitting outside in my new chair
for the first time. It was a Valentine’s
Day slash birthday gift from my
sweetheart.

I wasted as much time as possible
because I could easily sit in this
lounge chair for hours on end.

I read my Kindle on my phone which
is a different book than on my
Kindle. A book I had forgotten I was
reading.

I opened a crossword. I closed the
crossword; my mind wasn’t up to it.
I was content that death may not
be coming today.

Which made me think as I listened
to the birds, a time is coming when
I won’t hear the birds anymore or
the piercing sound of the wind.

I am holding on to a thread of faith
that says God has the power to do
all that he has promised.

I wait eagerly for what lies ahead
even when my faith is too weak to
see anything but the sound of the
wind.