Ghosts of Christmas Past…..
Greenport Christmas 1967
(-for my Dad)
I’m walking next to my father
on a chilly, but clear Christmas Eve
down to the movie theater
just past supper time
under a brilliant canopy of stars.
The sidewalks are hard solid grey
cracked and buckled slabs.
We walk the mile
side by side
as we always have.
We have been doing this
since I learned to walk
and was able to keep up.
Tonight I’m going down to work with him.
The town glows silently tonight
The storefronts decorated.
We pass swiftly the last few blocks
down to the other end of town.
We can’t be late to start the show on time.
We stand in front of the darkened theater
as he fishes his keys out to unlock the lobby doors
He has them attached on a long silver chain
There are a lot on the ring.
As I stand next to him searching for the right one
I can smell the low tide bay a block away
in the cool night air.
Once inside the theater is dark.
He goes in the office and I hear the snap of the circuit breaker
relays bringing to life the light the Deco Movie Palace
The orange chasers on the huge marquee dance in a mad circle
outside in the Christmas eve night.
The movie theater is alive.
Gushes great sighs of forced warm air.
The crowd is sparse.
I sit up in the near empty
orchestra/lodge in the front row
of the one thousand seat house
eating popcorn and drinking coke
and watch a comedy farce
that I hardly understand.
Even the second time.
I sit through the two showings..
the Seven and the Nine PM.
There are even less people for the last showing.
A little after eleven I watch my Dad
kill all the lights
with the same circuit breaker snap
I watch the movie theater go back to sleep.
We ride home with Jimmy D
in his work van.
I sit in the back with all the tools
on a overturned milk carton.
He smokes cigars
and barks a hard husky throaty laugh
as he farts
which makes him laugh harder.
I like him
and the sound of his laughter
but I hope when I grow up
I don’t find that stink as funny
as he and my Dad do.
He pulls up
in front of our house
near the Sound Bluffs.
As the engine idles
They talk in the front.
I ask if I can go inside.
Need to go to bed.
It’s Christmas eve
and I’m 12.
Too old for Santa
but not my dad.
From Attitude House 12/2001
…. And you cling to me
like last Christmas’ tinsel
always at my heel
trailing my step
forever caught to the fringes
of January kissing December
I can’t seem to elude…
to brush away that last thin
crumpled glimmering stray strand.
You cling to me.
And I cling to you.
Just a slight silver echo
a reminder, rejoinder
that stubborn summer whisper
stuck in a broken finger of light.
Somewhere between lint and hint
a sigh and a lie.
There was never any choice
in the thing.
It was on your coat selves
then deep in your pockets
last time I saw it
you had strands tangled in your hair.
Attitude House 2000
Just Last Christmas
I danced her last with her
as the lights shimmered on the tree
like a string of pearls
I brought him his last gifts
as he sat confined to his chair
Never knowing it was
just their last Christmas
All the gifts exchanged in this world
never last as long as the memory
of what you gave them
and what they took away
and the next day
all the beautiful wrapping paper
is crumbled and just thrown away.
In that soft glow of the decorated room
where the candles flickered
in shadows silhouette
where your eyes shown
never believing now
just last Christmas
Lost in the strands of tinsel
and garland strung in circles
a captured moment in a glass orb
so gently will sway
and in our hearts
a picture of them
will never go away.
of our ghosts
of the past
and the future
and just how short
all this time of us
very well may be
and in this end of the year
we dream still
of just last Christmas.
Her Merry Christmas
Maybe sister…..daughter … perhaps Aunt
is sitting out there
wishing you would walk in the door
of the kitchen
and give her just one good reason
to believe/forget the world’s cold shoulders
and hard edges and all that shit she has had to eat over
all the years might that have meant something
more then the ex-husband/lover that barely speaks to her
and the old friends that seldom call
not to mention the children that
ignore/take her for granted.
She’s listening to the Christmas music
sitting in the colored lights with a glass of wine
the tears are barely an after-thought
as she wonders why you never showed up
in her life and perhaps if you did once
why she ever…
ever let you go.
Attitude House 12/99
Christmas Visit Snapshot
Nearly noon along the Hudson
Brilliant light about
descending rust wine
iron crane wench hook
set in blue and white midday relief.
McNamara’s daughter isn’t coming
Johnny in Singapore
You sit in here alone
listening to the bartender
tell that the pickpockets are
using box cutters this year
up on 86th and Lexington.
Back in the Big Red Mountain booth
way downtown beaten worn linoleum
I’ll call you from the payphone
in the back near the pool table
while listening to the killer jukebox
resurrect Spike Jones singing,
You always hurt the one you love.
From Attitude House 12/99
Can you find any words left
for the long runway and this familiar foot rest.
All day miles melted past
and you were able to sit still silently propelled
just reading and taking notes.
Your big idea of time off.
Now before the last leg of the trip
you heel toe briefly at rest
before pushing on the sidewalk square
with an older eye.
Attesting to this as I walk in the door
overheard from the local boys over the pool table
“Here comes the professor…..
wonder where his footnotes are tonight?”
So you take your place at the bar and
drop a tentative temporary anchor
always remembering, remembering
where you came from.
Greenport Christmas 98
Attitude House 2000