Category Archives: nostalgia

On birthdays, memories, and top 5 lists

This past week I celebrated another birthday.  It was a milestone, being number 55. This year events coincided that made the day just a day.   My wife recently had back surgery and is recovering at home (doing well, but still has pain).  My eldest son is busy with work projects and a new baby.  My youngest son lives elsewhere and had to work (though he did call and we had a great conversation).  Good friends had other family obligations or were traveling.  I worked all day.  In fact, this is one memory of my birthday that will go down as being one of the most unremarkable.  For that alone, I will probably always remember it.

I will count the small kindnesses/gestures along the way:  The balloons shared by coworkers who recently turned 55 this month and like to tease each other about who is older.  We now have a special club – and I will always get used balloons because of it.  The blueberry pie made for me by a family friend who was looking in on my wife as she recuperates.  The phone call from my youngest son to wish me a happy birthday. The adorable phone call from my parents singing “happy birthday” in different keys.  Note:  My parents are career musicians and are never off-key.  Greetings shared on social media (FB) from friends and family – far and wide- hoping that I had the greatest day – the best day.   Yet, it was just a day, and I guess there is nothing wrong with that.

I reflected on past birthdays  and wondered what made a day the best day – the greatest day.  I’m not sure I have the answer, but I did dredge up some good memories of birthdays.

  1.  On my eleventh birthday, I received my first vinyl album as a gift from my parents.  It was Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles.  I had recently been introduced to their non-mop-top music by a school friend, and was immediately smitten with the lyrical genius of John Lennon on I am the Walrus.  It would be the first of many vinyl albums I would receive on my birthdays/Christmases.
  2.  On my 13th birthday, I had a sleepover party with 8 friends. I think this was my first and only sleepover birthday party. We ate hotdogs and hamburgers, played badminton, wiffle-ball and touch football, then roamed around the neighborhood after dark – playing  ghost in the graveyard.
  3. On my 27th birthday, I received my PhD.
  4. For my 40th birthday,  my wife purchased third base line tickets to a AAA baseball game in our city.  We went with some dear friends (one each of our children share a birthday) we had recently reconnected with.
  5.  On my 50th birthday, I was traveling in Germany with my eldest son and my father.  We were in Nuremburg on that day and visited Coburg Castle.  Facebook likes to remind me of that day every year and I smile.

There are memories of other birthdays,  but all the things that make days special are there in that list: meaningful gifts and gestures, landmark events, good food and fellowship, and exciting adventures in new places.

They are still just days – though,  and I hope you have a great one.

 

 

 

Abandon

Chalk sun-faces on an asphalt driveway,
drawn to chase away the chill breeze
and forecasted rain.

Bicycles circle the cul-de-sac
blazing trails, pedals flail.

Shouts and whoops
to Scout
to fetch the ball
and chase the calls.

Children playing with abandon.
Adults watch and see themselves –
their childhood, stranded.

Christmas passed

I sit at the side of an aging Christmas tree,
its lights still glittering, the ornaments of memory
and seasonal delight put away since yesterday.

Times of Yule have passed, and a passionate thread
winds with the ribbon, translucent and red,
around the fir’s perimeter, wreathed and twisted.

Perhaps, tomorrow I shall put it all away –
the strings of lights, the skirt with gold inlay,
And finally, the tree itself – for future holidays.

And in the empty spaces that it leaves
I shall remember light and ribbon, though it grieves
that such a brightening emblem has to leave.

Listen

I’ve spent the week listening to songs
and paying tribute to old movie stars.
Ol’ Gator and the Crewe are gone,
the coffee pot is growling on.

The songs I heard are old and true,
yet still they sound like yesterday.
I send them out from me to you.
The coffee pot is growling on.

Ol’ Gator fought the crooked law
and justice served the Crewe at last.
Even bandits fight against their flaws.
The coffee pot goes growling on.

What could happen, which is worse?
Posed a voice I recognize.
Are our leaders so accursed?
the coffee pot goes growling on.

Where did all our heroes go?
I ask aloud – inside my head.
The lonely people – they all know
the coffee pot’s still droning on.

Songs and stories will often tell
us who we are to be:
Poet, lover, bootlegger rebel.
The growling pot has stopped, it’s done.

Upon a doorway

Clay flowerpots lay strewn about,
the solid door shut, and the grout
amidst the brick and plaster walls
is hurried and askew.

The silent ones living there
do not come or go much anywhere,
the light and air commiserate
with old facades, worn and true.

Once, daffodils and daisies roamed
and bloomed in springtime at this home,
now wearing in dilapidation
clay pots all are cast a-strew.

Yet, beauty can come once again
through this threshold and attain
a place the memories are kept
upon a doorway, words brand new.

******
A poem written in response to Worth a 1000 words prompt by The Haunted Wordsmith. Not a story in a 1000 words, which I think was the intent of the prompt.  🙂

 

Lament (a Cento)

Our one forever,

when it stole through the red gates of sunset
left over from autumn, and the dead brown grass
is yet vibrant with the cadence of the song you might have been.

No longer mired in waiting to begin.

They tell us the night means nothing,
and the candles their light the light.

Nothing is hid that once was clear,

then gone and then to come:
all the time, except the split
second, except—

What is there to say except to lament.

You live in the wrong place.

There’s no flowering time to come.

The hands fell off my watch in the night

and you counted the time
from this instant.

**********************
This Cento contains lines from the following poets: 

Kenneth Rexroth, John Koethe, Lola Ridge, Brenda Hillman, Martha Collins,  Melissa Kwasny, Katharine Tynan, Esther Louise Ruble, David Yezzi, Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, Jonathan Galassi, Michael Goldman, Robert Francis, and Lucille Clifton.