Muth Labben

ben muth labben

Today is for counting my wasted yesterdays
Each one neatly lined up
row on dusty row

Every year the same

Today is for remembering your unborn tomorrows
And the time I sit
because walking is too slow

There is no blame

Today is for pretending to make sense of the past
From a life ended
with nothing to show

When I speak your name

Today is for thinking that memories last
But all they do is fade
until they go

Like every unfinished song to be sung
About the death of a son

Copyright © 2012 William S. Friday

Remembrance Day

remembrance day

The day my life began, I was already seventeen-thousand, one-hundred and seventy days old.  And about one hour.  But what an hour.  I wasn’t ready for her, but she was ready for me.  She was brown, if brown could be its own shade of pastel.  Built like bull wire and tenderness in equal measure, beneath a newborn exterior.  Mine, and more than my redemption.

Today is her day.  The eighth celebration of her life that we, the ones who are graced by her, remember her with.  She is a normal eight-year-old girl.  She loves dolls and hockey, mac and cheese and Brussel sprouts, Shel Silverstein, and Bob’s Burgers.  She is loved, thank God, by her peers and her elders.  And she, thank God, loves her peers and her elders just the same.

And today, because there is love in this world that would not have existed had she not entered it, I write this.  For me.  For her family.  For her.  Because one day, she will read this, as she has already read my poetry.  And she will know that this is who she is to us.

She is the daughter of my daughter.  She is the heart of my heart.  And this day will forever be her birthday.  The eighth so far.  The remembrance day of when my life began.

And hers.

 

Copyright © 2016 William S. Friday

20 Inch Black and White Portable TV

nano BLACK AND WHITE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I disappear.

It’s something I have always done, even from my earliest days.  In the late ’60s, when most kids didn’t have a TV, I had one, in my room.  20 inch, black and white, portable TV.  No remote.  I can’t remember the brand anymore, but that’s just one invisible detail in a story about becoming invisible.  With that TV, I watched Japanese monster movies, and re-runs of Gilligan’s Island.  With that TV, I watched local news with anchors nobody remembers.  With that TV, I watched the Dodgers and the Giants.

With that TV, I would disappear.

In the late ‘60s, both my parents worked, and they had plans in place to counteract leaving a child on his own before the age of ten.  My grandmother lived with us, but by the late ‘60s, she was in her early eighties couldn’t keep up, and there wasn’t much she could do to make interesting to a child the things she was interested in. Just like there wasn’t much that a woman born in the waning years of the nineteenth century could understand from a kid growing up in the mid-twentieth.  So, when all the afterschool sports and games were done; after all the neighborhood kids were called inside for the doing of things like homework and family dinners; before my parents would return from work, in the dark; I would retreat to my cluttered room, with the 20 inch, black and white, portable TV.

With that TV, I would disappear.

It became a habit almost impossible to break.  The retreat from loneliness into a different kind of loneliness.  One of my own choosing.  With my stunted social skills, learned well, but honed badly by the lack of brothers and sisters, or hands-on parenting, I was more at home in my room, in front of a 20 inch, black and white, portable TV, as I was in the company of other kids, or their families.  When I tell this story now, to people who think they know me… and I seldom tell it… they have a hard time believing that I’m not a lifelong extrovert.  Only decades of well-rehearsed dealings with folks… of knowing when, in conversation, to press in and look genuinely interested, or when to back off, so as to come across as informally cool… have gifted me with the ability to keep myself from disengaging, yet remaining in a soothing isolation from the crowd.  All of it reminding me of a childhood in which I felt more in control in the shadows of a room lit by a 20 inch, black and white, portable TV.

With that TV, I would always disappear.

And now, because this is a blog post and not a novella, I end with this.

Today I live in the second decade of the twenty-first century, almost fifty years removed from a time when a kid could disappear into the world of a 20 inch, black and white, portable TV.  The second decade of the twenty-first century, where listing the potential distractions for a child of this space and time would take longer to write than it took you to read this.  And it is no great surprise, except to most of my friends who think I could not possibly be anything other than an extrovert, that my retreat is still TV.

But they will always be wrong.  Because I will always have that need.  To fade into the shadows, and hear only the voices of those whose words I can turn on and off at will.  To close the door on the outside world, and let go of things beyond my control.  I miss that 20 inch, black and white, portable TV.

Because with that TV, I would disappear.

 

Copyright © 2015 William S. Friday

Planet Oklahoma

nano PLANET OKLAHOMA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I grew up on a moon

orbiting

the planet Oklahoma.

 

Copyright © 2015 William S. Friday

You and She

nano YOU AND SHE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This life is easy
Eat
Sleep
Fuck
And make little yous and shes
who do the same after you,
and she

No, wait

This life is easy
Feed the hungry
Act tirelessly
Give a fuck
And make the world a little better
for those who come after you,
and she

No, wait

This life is easy
Eat,
and feed the hungry
Sleep,
and act tirelessly
Fuck,
and give a fuck
and make little yous and shes

Who do the same for those who come after you,
and she

Copyright © 2015 William S. Friday

Holes

nanoHOLES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes

we fill the holes in our lives

with deeper holes

 

Copyright © 2015 William S. Friday

If You Were My Mommy

angry mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you were my mommy

I would have punched you in the face

before the age of eight

No parent should sound like that

while talking about someone

who came from their womb

Not to strangers

not to friends

not to cops

And not out loud

on goddamned speakerphone

at fucking Starbucks

 

Copyright © 2015 William S. Friday

John Stephen Akhwari

 

john stephen akhwari 01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t keep up with my own life

let alone the lives of those around me

The lives of those who love me

and God forbid

of those I love

Without meaning to

my life has become the image that

haunted me in my wide-eyed post-adolescence

Of the Tanzanian marathoner

John Stephen Akhwari

who finished last in Mexico City in 1968

Yeah

just YouTube it

The point is

I want to grab onto life

hold on for all I’m barely worth

Or run

with endurance

and the speed

not just to finish

but to win

Yet on days like this

and most others

it is all I can do to look at life like a

bandaged

limping man

sweat-drenched and bloody

shuffling in the dark towards the finish of a race

long over

but not for himself

Who

when asked why he did not quit a race

long-lost

said

“My country did not send me five-thousand miles to start the race.  My country sent me five-thousand miles to finish the race.”

And so

I look up

into the near-empty stadium

and to a victor’s stand

long since abandoned by those with medals won

and put one more foot in front of one more other

This race almost done

Copyright © 2015 William S. Friday

Older and Frailer

frail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I avoid thinking about my childhood

Unless someone asks me to tell them

Why I am the way I am

And then I’m forced to

Or I lie

 

And usually

When I talk about the distant past

I spend that time remembering my dad

Whose influence always finds

Its way to the surface

Of my thoughts

The quickest

 

He would yell when he got angry

Mutter when he knew he was wrong

And condemn

When warning me against things

That could lead to harm

 

But as he got older and frailer

With age and a failing heart

He also would

Own up to his yelling

Muttering

Condemning ways and speak

With genuine contrition

 

Until the last night I saw him alive

And I knew that he

Loved me more on that night

Than on any day

Which had preceded it

 

Copyright © 2014 William S. Friday

One of These Things

SONY DSC
photo credit uvalaw.typepad.com

Johnny Cash covers

will never be better than

covers sung by Johnny Cash.

 

A home run watched

from the fifth deck at Dodger Stadium

will always be better than

listening to Charley Steiner

call a home run

on my car radio

no offense Charley

you’re not Vin Scully.

 

Sex without love

makes you common

love without sex

makes you a fool

sex and love together

makes you a porn star.

 

Copyright © 2014 Bill Friday