Five-Line Poems #2
The photograph of my father
taken three years before he died
showed clear and quiet empty eyes.
I cried not for his body's death
but for his mind's passing away.
As the war raged and raged and raged,
the mother paced, wringing her hands:
"If my boy dies, I'll have nothing."
Right behind, the daughter pleaded:
"What about me? You'd still have me!"
Morning after a drive-in double date
I notice four thick cascades of beer foam
outside the windows of my '55.
Did my dad see them before going to work?
I hurry to wipe off the evidence.
Aging brings experience,
a compiling of knowledge,
a honing of commonsense.
Wisdom is a close weaving
of these things with a kind heart.
Flaw-filled and scar-covered,
I stumble all around
searching with my eyes closed;
I whack the pinata,
hoping for truth to spill.
When, after the stillness of death,
the body's atoms are let loose
to return to energy's pool.
Oh for the dimensional sense
to witness their floating away.
From the building they'd occupied,
the students were herded by cops
up the ramp of the moving van.
But some slipped out the truck's side door,
taking their vict'ries where they could.
I zombie-walked through the pain fog
into the emergency room;
waited, proved I could pay, waited.
Then a needleful of sweet peace
and the hassle stopped mattering.
I am four and a half years old
and I've begun stacking mem'ries.
My world is smaller than I'd like.
I yearn for wider, bigger things.
This should be so at any age.
Curiosity's a strong thing,
hard-wired deep in the human mind.
It can be wondrous, or not so.
Even you have thought of your tongue
touching that frozen metal pole.
Such a human thing to do,
to want to press a button.
The urge pulls even stronger
if there's a bold sign stating:
Do Not Press This Button
The ambulance skids to a stop,
lights all flashing, all glaring.
Responders flurry and race.
Then suddenly there's stillness
and the ambulance leaves slowly.
[Some advice passed on]
Laughter can make you feel better.
Remember to breathe deeply.
Hurrying can make you drop things.
Make your silences accurate.
Don't squat with your spurs on.
A crystal clear wondrous thought
just as you climb up from sleep
can fall to fog and confusion.
Grab frantically, desperately,
but the mem'ry mist has claimed it.
Out of the cardboard box
she takes red crepe paper.
Delicately wetting it,
she rubs it against her cheeks;
some rouge for the occasion.
Promises, thank-yous, curses,
give me this, grant me that.
After hearing countless buzzings
ev'ry celestial second,
what god would not go mad.
For him she had a room built,
with a long shelf for his ashes,
lights only focused on his urn.
Yule singers were asked to come in
and sing carols to her and him.
The young, with their new hormones
jammed like Chinese take-out,
look closely at one another;
innocent lids atop
full barrels of concealed heat.
She asked the deejay to play
a sad song of lost love
and dedicate it to me.
To pile remorse upon regret,
I didn't know which one called it in.
There is that crucial moment,
the one you didn't see coming,
but one where you deep-down know
another layer has been added
to your psychic onion.
Harry W. Yeatts Jr.