Author’s Note: I live in Glens Falls, NY. I've published a number of books of poetry and my work is also easy to find online, in this journal as well as many others. My newest book of poems, The Honey of Earth, will appear this summer from Terrapin Books. A gallery of my photography is is also available here: http://instagram.com/doctorjazz
Dreaming Of My Father On What Would Have Been His 97th Birthday
“Is this George Graham?”
“Well, who did you think it was, David?”
“Oh, you just sounded funny. I think
the connection’s spotty.
I’m on my cell phone.”
And it’s true—the first time after his death
I think to give him a call,
and I am on my cell, but that’s not
what makes me nervous.
I need to ask him something, something
important, but I can’t think
what that is.
So we chat as usual about weather here,
weather there, and it’s nothing unusual.
He doesn’t mention being dead,
so I don’t, either.
Good to see you again after all these years,
Uncle Jack--your indelibly wry smile
and bad-back stoop, and those
omnivorous eyes still wide open.
You looked remarkably fine
for a man who's been dead
more than thirty years. We didn't
say much, it's true, but that's not
because you're mist or because
the dream was brief as a wave
sinking into the lake shore sand.
I was tongue-tied as of old, of course,
but this time because I wanted
to ask if you'd seen my father,
if in whatever dark land or condition,
it's true there are reunions
and conversation beyond ash and smoke?
But I was too shy. Perhaps you'd forgotten
to look, or maybe death is as confusing
and chaotic as life, full of murk
and crowds and half-caught words.
So I shook your hand and smiled
and we agreed it had been a long,
long time. Too long, you sighed, as I woke.
Dream of Fame
out of folders,
words like leaves
in the dank air,
I am not ready
to give my speech.
The microphone buzzes
and cuts out.
My introducer lurches
against me, lifts
her sloppy glass of wine
to the spotlight
and says Well,
here he is, I guess. . . .
For a second I think
my eyes out. But it's
just feedback wail,
and when the house lights
go up, no one's there,
of course, just a pond
and dragonflies, then
the muddy slap
of a carp.
© 2019 David Graham
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