G. Louis Heath
I am a native Californian, a Berkeley Ph.D., who is Professor Emeritus, Ashford University. That basically means that my campus closed and I had to retire at age 71 in May, 2016, after 47 years in higher education. Please excuse the clinging initial G. (for Gary) Louis Heath but I thought it was cool in 1969 when I first published! My books include Mutiny Does Not Happen Lightly, Long Dark River Casino, and Vandals in The Bomb Factory. I love to read my poems at the Midwest Writing Center in Davenport, Iowa and at other open mic events. I serve on the Human Rights Commission of my city, Clinton, Iowa. I love to hike along the Mississippi River where I can sit down, weather permitting, and work on a poem that I have stuffed in my back pocket.
The mall of my apartment complex is a rectangle of
well-trimmed grass, a couple acres with a basketball
court, swimming pool, and swings for kids, just below
my balcony. It is where my neighbor’s schnauzer gambols
with other dogs taut on owners’ leashes. It is where Dads
and Moms play catch with sons and daughters. One Dad
on a prosthetic titanium leg impresses. He throws a mean
fastball to test his kids. He gives no quarter to that IED that
took his birth leg. Before me lies a different kind of mall
than America’s Mall that busses of locals visit to purchase
bits of the American dream. My mall preceded ferroconcrete
boxes with concourses through shops of Chinese widgets.
My mall is rooted in colonial America and the village green.
I prefer my mall to the one on the outskirts of town. Yes,
I concede both are American malls. But my mall is best.
My Uncle Arne
I visited Uncle Arne at the Sons of Norway nursing home.
A pallid parchment papered his face and arms, the onion
skin paper I once typed on. His signature Norse grin was
now a fence of teeth of that pike at the bottom of our canoe,
on a fishing trip long ago in north Ontario. His vigorous,
tanned lumberjack’s torso, once ripped in muscle, had
withered. Uncle flexed biceps and triceps only in memory.
A bear broke into the ice chest on our cabin’s porch one
night, scattering ice, glittering gems in the moonlight. Uncle
Arne was calm, a source of power. I vowed to be like that.
But not like this. The ghostly skin, onion paper in my type-
writer, so brittle, unable to contain light. Not like this.
©2016 G. Louis Heath
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