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Category: Family

Buddhism can be pretty @#$&^% useful

Thought process I went through just now:

1. I wonder if I should have a conversation with my sister about what my intentions are when one of our parents dies.

2. I might feel differently about that situation when it actually happens.

3. There’s no need to deal with it until it occurs.

4. That applies to so much of life. Too much planning and overthinking and playing out stories. 

5. The better way is clearly just to deal with what’s actually happening right now.

6. That @#$%& Buddhist approach sure does get proved right quite often. 

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Why I didn’t eat popcorn for decades

The Park Square Popcorn Cart

In about 1977, my mom bought me a bag of popcorn from this cart, and then we walked into England Brothers department store, in front of which it was parked. There was an escalator, and as my mom and I went up it I was eating fresh popcorn from my bag. Near the top of the escalator I lost my balance and tumbled all the way to the bottom, popcorn flying everywhere.

From that day onward, I could never eat popcorn without feeling nauseous. I tried many times. My family loved popcorn and made it frequently. I tried when I’d go to the movies with friends. Every single time, I’d take a handful and immediately start feeling sick. That lasted until my early 40s, when I ate some popcorn with no ill effects. I can still eat it today, though I spent so many years avoiding it that I usually forget it exists until I go to a movie.

I took the photo above during my lunch break today. I’m not sure if this is the exact same cart or a replica, but it sure looks the same as the one in my memory. I’m also not sure if this cart is still open for business. There was nobody in it today, but perhaps it’s only open on certain days or at certain times. England Brothers, where my grandmother worked for years, was razed during Pittsfield’s urban renewal.

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POEM: Unendling


I am the first of my line.
By my own hand I placed
a period on the page.
Taking up the pen again,
I wrote a new name.
Now there are more,
and they will trace back
their names to me.
Our creation story begun
at a dining room table in 1995,
with the unforgiving desert sun
pressing in through the windows.
Look on my works ye mighty
and think whatever you’d like.
I am the first of my line.

/ / /

30 April 2022
Pittsfield MA

(NaPoWriMo Day 30 — Fin!)

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POEM: My Grandfather’s Hands

My Grandfather’s Hands

He could make so many things with his hands.
He made the doors in the house I grew up in.
He crafted the scrimshaw I wore as a kid.
He painted the images that hang on our family’s walls.
He steered the car to my clarinet lessons.
He played the saxophone in the days before I knew him.
Just now I looked down at my own hands,
noticed the deepening lines in my knuckles.
They look more like his hands now.
That’s just a coincidence of aging; it turns out
one of the things he didn’t make was my mom.
But he decided early on to be part of my found family —
before he even knew I’d exist.
I try to make good things with my own hands.
And I do it in memory of him.

/ / /

8 April 2022
Latham NY

(NaPoWriMo Day 8)

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POEM: No One Involved Will Read This

No One Involved Will Read This

There we are together, smiling.
You’re holding the baby.
He’s sleeping softly against your chest,
wearing his little cap, red-faced.
You look so very happy.
I have my arm around you.
For reasons that are unlikely to become clear,
I’m wearing a propeller beanie.
My mom and dad are next on the bench,
both smiling, or maybe laughing.
Dad’s hand is on my shoulder,
his other arm around my wife,
who sits at the far end of the bench, also laughing.
Across from us are Jeff and Leeanne,
whom my wife and I would eventually visit
with our own baby, years later.
They are laughing.
I believe this photo was taken
on my twenty-sixth birthday.
I was young and so very much in love with you.
Later that night I’d be on stage at the Blue Nite,
everyone in this photo in the audience.
In a matter of weeks your friend in Las Vegas
would invite you to come out to the desert
to live with her while you figured out your next steps.
I’d drive you to the airport, one hand on the wheel,
the other holding yours, dreading the end of the drive.
But right then we were just in love and laughing
and celebrating a birthday and full of Mexican food.
Did everything seem possible? I can’t remember.

/ / /

1 February 2022
Latham, NY

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POEM: End of the line

End of the line

Your parents’ house is gone,
replaced with a larger,
less interesting version of
the suburban dream.
Four generations of your history
and someone knocked it down,
just like that.
I’m a sucker for a good metaphor
but c’mon.
Can I tell you the stupidest thing?
I ate a breath mint just before I arrived,
on the off chance you were also
making a stop on a farewell tour.
You weren’t, of course, more’s the pity.
Have you replaced me with a newer version?
I guess it doesn’t really matter.
I miss your folks, though. They were my
last remaining parents.
As I drove out of town I said
“Goodbye, Livingston,” aloud,
for what I assume was the last time.
Thomas Wolfe. What a bastard.

/ / /

23 January 2022
Livingston NJ &
Colonie NY

Thanks to CC for the title.

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