Tag Archive for Al Preller

JIMMY TIME! (And a Poem for Dad)

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.

Wait, what?

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.

Four Old Family Photos

Busy day yesterday, as I drove down to CitiField (300 miles round trip) with Gavin and Nick to catch the Mets. My attendance record stands now at 0-3, and each game fairly abysmal. This is the price I pay, I tell myself, for being in attendance for Game 5 of the 1969 World Series, when the Amazin’s won it all and later went on The Ed Sullivan Show to sing, “The Impossible Dream.” Oh well, my boys were happy. It was a sweltering day, the sun beating down on our heads, and I spent more than $40 on water at the park.


Anyway, I wanted to post two photos yesterday for the holiday . . .

My father served in the Air Force. This photo was taken during his basic training in Tennessee, 1944. He wrote on the back of the photo, presumably sent to his parents in Queens, NY: “Here I am all dressed up. My hat is on cockeyed. Don’t I look independent?”

My brother Bill, the second oldest in the family, served in Vietnam. I figure this shot for somewhere in 1967-68. I remember when he was over the there, and the body counts on the nightly news, a little boy wondering, hoping. When he came home, I ran and jumped into his arms.

When you warm up the old scanner, it’s hard to stop. This is from my sister Barbara’s 8th-grade graduation from St. Frances de Chantel in Wantagh, NY. Back in in June, 1965, when the number one songs for the month were: “Help Me, Rhonda,” The Beach Boys; “Back in My Arms Again,” The Supremes; “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” The Four Tops; and “Mr. Tambourine Man,” The Byrds.

Music was really, really great when I was a kid. And it was about to get even better. (I think 1967 was the best year for music in the 20th century, since you asked.)

I used to be two years old. Go figure. This is from April, 1963, and I’m next to my sister Jean, age 5, going on 6. She was something with those straight bangs. On school visits, I’ll sometimes joke that there are no photos of me, because nobody bothers taking pictures of Kid #7. There’s truth in that, of course, but I’ve found some scattered old photos, too. Usually I’m standing next to somebody else, or a brother’s new car. These photos have become my small treasures.