Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Old Guys Love Poems

This is a self-portrait I drew when I was in my mid to late twenties. The drawing is close to forty years old.
I've been writing Portrait of the Artist for a full year now. I started it last December as a way of paying attention to and celebrating aging. I turned 65 in May making me officially an old guy.
With this posting I am bringing this project to and end. However, this blog will go on as a place where I can write about anything that is on my mind. And...

In January I will be launching Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man - Part II, in which I will be writing about and presenting portraits of working artist over the age of 65. So my focus will be shifting from autobiography and memoir to biography, to an examination of aging and creativity not just in myself, but in others. I'm very excited to be working on this project and grateful to everyone who has supported it with donations and suggestions.

Now to close out this portion of Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man:

An Old Guy's Love Poems



Deb, long before I knew you

I spent a weekend on Block Island

With Miranda.

I think she was three.

That makes it thirty-five years ago.

We climbed down the bluffs

And built driftwood sculptures on the beach.

(In a snapshot, she wears

A tiny red and white plaid bathing suit.

Her hair,

That refused comb or brush,

Halos her head)

That night, thunder rattled the windows

Of our hotel room

And lightening toppled a chimney near by.

Miranda slept through it.

I stayed awake to protect her.

I’ve told you this story

A hundred times.

I want you to know all my stories,

To be proud of me

And to forgive me.


“Deb, tell me about the time

Lars fell asleep riding the bike.”

“We had been directing camp in Barnes.

The Dutch families gave us a bunch of bikes to use.

We had been riding bikes all summer.

At the end of camp,

The Dutch families said they would pick them up.

We decided it would be fun

To ride a couple of them to their house.

It was a two or three hour ride.

Lars had Helen in a seat on his bike.

I was pregnant with Jesse.

It was the end of camp

So we were exhausted.

Lars was leading and he just fell over.

I said, ‘Are you alright? Is Helen alright? What happened?’

He said, ‘I fell asleep.’

That was about it.”

You’ve told me that story

A hundred times.

I want to know all your stories.

I want to know about when you and Loie

Were “the little girls.”

I want to know about you getting stoned with Janet

And running the tollbooths on 95.

I want to know about the time you and Lars

Didn’t have thirty-five cents to cross the Mt. Hope Bridge.

I want to know about Helen and Jesse jumping from the hayloft

And crumpling the roofs of the antique cars.


Deb, last September 2nd , before dawn,

When you were home in Rhode Island,

I pedaled my bike a couple of miles

Out into the Nevada desert

To an art oasis of upholstered couches and chairs

And fake palm tree umbrellas.

Just as the sun was raising

I sat next to a skinny

Sixteen-year-old boy.

In lieu of shaking hands,

He hugged me

Like the prodigal son coming home

To his long lost father.

This boy had two names.

The name given him at birth

Was Alexander, my middle name.

It means, he tells me, ruler of many.

But his desert name in Shanghai.

He is too stoned to talk much.

He is sweet and spacey.

He is much too thin.

If it were possible,

I’d take him out for a cheeseburger.

He would order

The brown rice, tofu, organic shitake, goat cheese burger.

“Have I told you this story?”

“Only about a hundred times.”

I want you to know all my stories.

Living the story is half the story.

Telling you the story completes it.


Deb, remember when…

Remember when…

Remember when…

Remember when we got massages

From the blind guy in Truth or Consequences?

Remember when we climbed Cadillac Mountain

To watch the sun rise?

Remember when we saw a palliated woodpecker

From our canoe?

Remember when we got robbed

On the beach in Guatemala?

Remember when we dropped Miranda and Helen off

At U-Mass?

Deb, remember everything that happened in Honduras?

I want to remember all our stories.

I want to tell them to each other

A hundred times.

Husband in Winter

In the middle of the night

I wake up in my warm bed.

I nudge Deb softly.

Yeah, she is still there.

I get up to pee,

Walk past the coats in the hall,

The door to the basement.

The clock on the stove says 2:10.

My old bladder knows the hour,

If not the minute.

There is moonlight coming in the back door.

I can make out the silhouette of the big rosemary plant.

I sit.

No sense in trying to steer

When I’m half asleep.

The thermostat is set at 58.

I’m cold

When I slip

Back under the covers.

But, Deb is warm.

I press against her,

Snuggling, spooning.

One day,

One of us

Will be alone

In this bed.

One of us

Will have to wait

While the heat of one body

Warms it up.

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