I don’t write many poems these days — and no one has complained about that. But lately I’ve been reading a lot of poetry. I’ve been drawn to plain-spoken poems of late, not the dense, compressed, intellectual type I used to favor. Actually, it’s not either/or or neither/nor, it’s everything, arms open wide.
Anyway, I wrote this on a Sunday morning before anyone else awoke.
That’s my new strategy for my 50′s, btw. It used to be that I could outwit, outplay, and outlast everyone. I’d stay up late and it would be: JIMMY TIME!
You know, those few hours when it’s just you and whatever it is you want to do. Eat ice cream, listen to music, watch a late movie, drink bourbon, try on the wife’s shoes, prance around, whatever.
But nowadays, my rotten kids stay up forever. I can’t outlast ‘em anymore. But I find that I’m waking up earlier, in the morning quiet, and love it: THE RETURN OF JIMMY TIME!
So I wrote this little poem. It’s nothing, but I was glad to send it to my mom today. Another thing about my dad: after he died, I grabbed his gray wool, button-down coat. Then I didn’t wear it for about five years, but I’m wearing it this winter and it always keeps me warm. I feel good walking around in it. So that’s my advice, kids: when Daddy kicks, check the closets and grab something, anything, you’ll be glad you did.
As for the poem, I just wrote the thing. Three minutes, done. Weird. Then I tinkered a little a few weeks later, today, but I didn’t want to get too fussy and ruin the thing. (Meanwhile you’re thinking, maybe you should have tinkered a little longer.)
Rescue on the Southern State
I was 19, we’ll call it that,
19 or 22, it doesn’t matter,
but a boy at a certain phase
of eclipse, when my father called
and said his car broke down
off the Southern State, near Mineola.
He needed me
……………………..to come get him.
He gave me directions, and I drove
Out, hoping not to screw it up.
I found him there by the side
of the crowded highway, looking
a little lost, a man out of place,
high and dry. But he knew
I’d make it.
Why that occurs to me after all these
years I don’t know, except that
It’s a quiet morning and I have not
Leaped into activity just yet, sitting
With my coffee, my book, these
Thoughts –- remembering the day
My father called and how I went,
As if it were nothing, as if I would never
give it a second thought.