William A. Greenfield
After a long career in public service, I am now semi-retired and reside with my wife and a spaniel named Phoebe in the Catskill Mountains of New York. I'm a fairly good poker player and a fairly terrible golfer. My poems have appeared in The Westchester Review, Carve Magazine, The East Coast Literary Review, and other journals.
Who really ever gets grounded?
Is it the children of the well
to do, who must stay in the
sun room and play the Steinway?
I don’t recall ever being told
“you are grounded young man.”
I know The Beaver was grounded
several times. He was sent to
his room by Ward, who sat in
an easy chair wearing a cardigan
and necktie at dinner time. He
was sent to his room, not to
the back room, not to the kitchen
table. Of course, he shared a
room with Wally, who also
was grounded now and then.
And they would commiserate
in their twin beds with matching
comforters. Ward and June
would share their thoughts
over tea, knowing all along
that their world would unfold
as it should, because that’s
what happens when you get
grounded, when there is no
escape plan down the fire
escape to the alley, no dancing
past your mother’s Percocet
gaze, no fetid mattresses in
the back room. The Beaver was
so lucky in his prime time
two story world. So much
better to be grounded than
First appeared in Ithaca Lit
The Ever-Shrinking Universe
So I come padding out of the bedroom
in manly slippers and she says “Yo Baby.”
We do this silly fist bump thing and
“Djeet?” She says “Cheerios.”
much to do, so we plan.
She’ll drive down
and I’ll drive back.
Now we’re outside
eating marshmallow Santas and
she asks why we still laugh. I
that the world gets smaller
There is no room left
for suicide bombers,
that we have to
get a card and send money
to the paperboy, but I put that
behind me because I
can’t find my way out
of J.C. Penny’s.
She laughs those pathetic
takes my hand. “Well,” I say,
“the store is just too big.” So, we shrink
down, our world a snow globe. Shaken,
it’s nothing but a swirl of flakes. Wound up,
we hear nothing but a twinkle
First appeared in The Westchester Review
My Father’s Shoes
Hand- me- overs from a learned brother,
they lay cracked and misshapen
in the bottom of the dark closet;
a symbol of some latent sadness.
It was there, but hidden from
the innocence of youth.
They spoke of a man in need of
something above and beyond the
benefits of comfortable footwear.
I can remember his facts.
He never drank milk.
He denied my sister a trip
to the shoe store in the snow.
He wouldn’t say why, couldn’t reveal
the fear, the compassion. He was
unable or unwilling to console his wife
when her anxiety surfaced late at night.
So, he would do deeds for the needy.
I worked with him in the summer
for a rich uncle. He sometimes
used the “F” word to impress me; to
make me less innocent and a bit more
brazen. He told me he was a bad example
of what I could become. I never knew
if he had expectations. But there were
requirements, like taking out the garbage
and sweeping the porch.
I don’t recall if his widow mourned
when his damaged heart could do no more.
I don’t remember tears of grief. I remember
pictures of a soldier in sunglasses and
lectures about returning a screwdriver.
I should have asked if there was more;
something I could do when a firm handshake
was just not enough to fill an empty
pair of second hand shoes.
First appeared in The Bookends Review
©2016 William A. Greenfield
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