I was a public school English teacher for 32 years and, although I had loved poetry all my life, I did not get interested in writing my own poems until I was in my 30’s. Since then I have published seven collections and my poems have appeared in journals such as Poet Lore, Barrow Street, Tiferet, and others. I grew up in central New Jersey, lived in Wisconsin for six years and now live just south of the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. My website is www.edwinromond.com
Asbury Park, August 3, 1962
I am 13 and smiling
in this photo with my father
on his 53rd birthday.
He stands with his arm
around me and I feel
his biceps solid from years
of lifting freight on and off
his truck. My father’s grinning,
his eyes bright with life
and behind us the boardwalk
teems with Saturday people.
All around us are summer
and the unstoppable pulse
of Asbury Park in ’62.
My father looks like a monument
of muscle, broad shouldered,
barrel chested, not a speck
of gray in his thick black hair,
an icon of strength and health.
No arcade fortune teller
could ever convince me
he has just four months to live;
that today is the last day
on this boardwalk
he and I will smile together.
Fifty summers later, I touch
the photo like a sacred relic,
the last remains of that day
by the sea, then place it
in a salt water taffy tin
with a faded post card saying,
Greetings from Asbury Park —
Wish You Were Here.
There are things I tell to no one…
I hid it between my Bob Dylan and
Beatles records, fearful college friends
might find my Kate Smith at Carnegie Hall album.
I shared with no one my love of her old songs
“I’ll Be Seeing You” and “How Deep Is the Ocean?”
for it would’ve been terminally uncool to be outed
as a guy who listened to a matronly lady sing
“It Never Entered My Mind” when Linda Ronstadt
in tight white cut-offs was a carnal proposal
in all my buddies’ record collections.
I couldn’t bear the astonished derision I knew
would await me so her songs were my secret
in a dorm hall blasting “White Rabbit,”
“Light My Fire,” and “In-A-Godda-Da-Vida.”
Through headphones I’d listen to
“When Your Lover Has Gone” and grieve
my ex-girlfriend in Milwaukee and believe
in the softest part of my heart that
Kate Smith knew something I felt, something
scorched with passion transcending a face
and figure of a lady three times my age.
I never told anyone what I did in my room
with the door locked, alone with a woman
and the songs only I could hear.
He is 14, filled with the flames of young love
so he writes a poem for the literary magazine titled,
“Forever: for Susan,” and sweetens the lines
with always, eternal, unending, and everlasting,
extremities of first romance that made me smile.
And who could not be moved by his earnest vow
in the last verse, As long as there is a golden sun,
you, dear love, are my only one? But this morning
he rushes to my room, face flushed, breathless,
and asks, “Did the book go to press yet?”
When I say, “No” his voice fills with fire as he begs
for his poem back. I pull “Forever: for Susan”
from the folder, and watch him take a thick eraser
to rub out Susan and write in, Tiffany, before
racing back to the crowded hall. There are still
six minutes until homeroom, almost forever
for a boy with a love poem, a hunter’s eyes,
and a stiff eraser bulging his blue jeans.
Credits: 'Secret' was first published in The Stillwater Review; 'Almost Forever' was published in The Edison Literary Review and
Alone with Love Songs (Grayson Books)
©2015 Edwin Romond