Be a Stranger to Death: Know his Work

A first funeral for me was in our church. I was too young and didn’t know him. But I cried—it was so sad. Others did too. My family all asked me why I cried. A man I didn’t know had died. They took me to his funeral, and I cried because I felt so sad. Why did they ask me why? It was a funeral. I saw others cry. But I felt sad for his friends and family, and for him. My family seemed to be telling me that I should not cry or feel sad. They were telling me how I should feel.

It was my first taste of ultimate reality and sadness at a level I had not yet known. Six decades later I still recall their questions and the implication that I should not be sad because some man had died. And since I did not know him, I should not care about his death.

They knew him. But none of my family cried. I was confused by their lack of sadness. How could they not feel it? I didn’t wonder then why we went to the funeral, but I do now.

I should not feel emotion or act out my feelings if I do. I did not understand why others didn’t feel as I did. Too young, but already being told not to feel too deeply—to not be a sensitive man boy (later a man). Stoicism was and is associated with strength and manliness. Strong silence.

Years later I attended an emotional funeral for two young children of a workmate (auto accident). Later, another workmate criticised the people who cried at that funeral. I wonder more about former than the latter. How could he not cry and why criticize those who did?

Now, I am sometimes spoken of as a sensitive man by some; as one who reflects sensitivity back upon people. They say so because they read my writings. Not because of how I behave.

But not always. I suffer fools poorly and bullies with quite limited tolerance. I am sensitive to violence toward others, but I can do what it takes to be just and fair.

I cannot ask why they tried to teach me not to cry, or not to feel, or to be not sensitive about those who died. And they cannot answer. I doubt any would understand why. I went to their funerals and I cried because they had died and I loved them.

I cried when each of them died. Nobody asked me why. But I still hid my tears. I cried when I was alone. They had taught me well, but they never changed me. Show them only the face they wish to see. Be the strong, stoic, liar.

I remain an emotional little boy society calls sensitive (or weak or worse). They, in their curiously socialized hearts and minds will never understand me—nor will I, them.

Why cry? Must you ask?

Look both ways and deeply into the abyss of human emotions.
Mind the gaps but be consistent. Be yourself.

Poetry: Edible Confession

Did homework, still had questions.
I noted the downstairs medical dispensary
but took stairs up to the recreational second floor,
where a kind young man tried to not
embarrass me with age and ignorance.

As we chatted he looked over my license
to be sure this old man was over 21,
not some state guy hired to sneak past
and get them punished for not checking me out.
He directed me through an open door

into a room with two ATMs for cash,
(purchase is cash only)
a long glass counter like a jewelry case was
staffed by attractive young ladies (and men)
I like to call bud-istas, and behind them
more cases with low drawers full of products to sell.

Around the room more glass cases displayed
all forms of product, much that looked
identical to others but with different fun names
from the Indica and Sativa families:
Grape Ape, Obama Kush, Alaskan
Thunder Fuck, Dirty Girl and Berry White,
all with varied chemical content on signage.

It reminded me of brewery tap room menus
that display the ABV and IBU or SRM; only these
reflected the type and quality of cannabis so patrons
know what they will soon consume.

Unlike taprooms, off premise consumption
is a must. Then it was like going to confession
when one of the bud-estas smiled
and offered to help me figure it out.

Forgive me Sister for I have sinned. This is my first confession. I been booze drunk on my ass, said and done incredibly stupid shit, driven drunk, and picked bar fights I couldn’t win. I’ve sucked tobacco smoke from cigarettes, pipes, cigars; and chewed the leaves. I ignorantly supported foolish laws that prevented others from doing this. My greatest sin: I’ve never used pot in any form. Now humbled before you, I beg your advice and assistance. What is all this stuff?

She called an older male assistant,
closer to my age, to aid my ignorance.
Thirty minutes later I knew
what this marijuana stuff was:
THC, CBD, and all that.
(oils, vapers, creams, grinders, and papers)
Particularly the edibles.

He told me it would take over an hour
for the edible effects to top out,
like drinking a glass of wine, only
the buzz would last through the evening.

I now say it’s more like two glasses,
properly stoned at two hours,
and semi-hosed for the evening.
But cogently sociable. Namaste.

If you’re fortunate enough to live in a state
with legal recreational ganja use, give it a go
if ya never have (unless yer a Fed, need CDL, or military).
But look both ways, bring cash, and smile for the camera.
Mind the gaps and do your homework.

Poetry: Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt

A song played on the radio
from WARM Top 40,
rock and roll—
sinful music station
in nineteen sixty-four.

Joe Dreier was driving when
I looked at the speedometer.
We’d not be doing a hundred
except Joe was drunk.

Me too. Maybe Ron
(who we called Dobbie)
Ganick wasn’t there,
he didn’t drink, but we did.

We all got home that night
of senior graduation parties.
Later when I was away in Texas
with the Air Force,

I learnt Ganick died.
His VW bug threw him in a crash.
I bet there was a song on the radio,
probably WARM 590 AM.

Look both ways for “fortune smiles on some,
and lets the rest go free.”*
Mind the gaps and wonder why.

(* from Sad Café by the Eagles)

 

 

 

 

Poetry: Kitchen Visits

Growing up, it was foreign land—
to me, yet, it was favored by all,
a magic kingdom of food and warmth,
a homework headquarters.

It had a coal stove for heat and
cooking. Mom (sometimes Dad) did laundry
there with a wringer machine filled and emptied by hose,
when new to the tribe, I was bathed in that sink,
perhaps after laundry and dishes were done.

Later in life it was (and still is) wife’s land.
Maybe it’s sexist, but barefoot in
the kitchen was her idea.
Actually, it was all her house
where we all lived. At home,
it was where the core of many lives
transpired—in the kitchen.
Meetings, parties, family dinners,
games and puzzles, some business.
It was our mother-ship’s headquarters.

When between jobs, I was given
the helm of house to navigate;
cooking, cleaning, laundry,
paying bills, and giving some homework
help. Dropping off, picking up,
taking to kid’s thingies. For a dad,
I believe I made a passable mom.

But the jury remains out.
Now those kids are gone
to their own kitchens,
it’s still the same in our lovely
(if mostly empty) nest. It’s her kitchen,
somewhere in the middle of
Texas. I don’t really
cook but would like to. I am the
dish washer, maybe replaced now
by a newer and quieter, a younger one
with fingerprint proof silver skin.

No man has ever been murdered
while doing the dishes.
Perhaps I
should be worried and observant,
or apply for the position of official
dishwasher loader and unloader.

It’s not my kitchen and it never will be.
Perhaps the laundry room?
Household poet laureate is a good job,
I eat well, and the beer is cold.

Look both ways, near and far.
There will always be gaps, in love and lust,
but in the kitchen, it’s Mom we trust.

Poetry: Silence is no Coward

I am strong, but I am tired, Stephen, tired of always having to be the strong one, of always having to do the right thing.” Brenda Joyce, An Impossible Attraction


I’m not always much of anything.
I’ve been an old white man for a long time,
a branded stereotype with good teeth
and a bad attitude,

apparently not supposed to ask for
some things, cuz I am old and white.

It’s okay. Perhaps they’re fucking right.
Equality is in, unless you happen to be
old…
white…
and have what’s left of an old hard on.

Others were (and still are) treated like shit
by white guys. Nazis were, are, white,
male; no fucking idea how old fits.

Some old men are idiots, non-millennial
impotent bastards who hate everyone,
and everything, especially women.
Stereotyped, hairless shit heads
with nothing to do
but make mankind worse.

It’s a tough world, but we can try
to make it better each day.
To make it last.

©Bill Reynolds, 6/13/2019

Look and listen both ways for real equality. At least, don’t be unkind.
Mind the gaps like lifelines with stories to tell.

Why Two things?

Almost everyone wants
to be a writer, claims
Clive James.

I am two things:
an old man of a type or
a kind, and I am
a writer of some sort.

But I
am not of the almost
or even most who
want to be. It is
what I am.
An identity.

Some things I do
because I must –
I eat, shower,
shit and shave –
walk about and I
swim. I take pills
and shots of various
kinds in odd places
like my right ear
or part of my derriere.

I read because I
must, but also
because I want to
just for pleasure.

Why do I write?
I don’t have to,
but it’s like I
need to. If I
don’t, I’ll become
impacted with
words. My muse
may stop visiting
and my mind will
go and I will die
from constipation
of expression.

So, I write this shit
and it feels good.
The old man part is okay
but can’t say it feels as good.

Look both ways at the buffet of life, sample it all.
Mind the gaps to find a treasure of pleasure.

Poetry: It’s Not For Everybody. Is it?

I almost never wanted this – to be a writer,
but I write, I drink too,
seldom too much
anymore.

That’s not discipline or pride,
it’s from bein’ too fuckin’ old.
Thinking of words, I write them and then
I point, and I say, “Hey look, I’m a writer.”

Quite certain that of the many who
thought they had taught me English
as an academic subject, who gave me
perhaps deserved grades without motive
with one exception, may groan in their graves.

A good man, Thornton looked at me, “Why
are you even here?” I think he knew.

School was mostly bull shit. I learned little,
but it was still involuntary servitude crap
I never wanted to do again. Not like that.
Even college.

Today, I might not kill them,
but they might think I would. Back then,
I thought I needed them. Now I know.
One or two might scare a bit. Maybe.

A few. Very few. Assholes are not
educated out of it. But I write.
Look at me.

I think I always liked it (writing that is),
but nobody ever (till years later)
said that I was good at it. Maybe Thornton
hinted. Even Miff W. said, “You know,
college is not for everybody.”

Maybe not Miffy baby, but it was for me.
Surprised? Don’t be. You motivated me.

Look both ways, maybe with some bitterness and sarcasm.
Find motivation in the gaps.